Ray Green tweaks Copy That's New Zealand Cup build up
By Michael Guerin
Trainer Ray Green has a surprise bonus for southern harness fans as he starts to plot Copy That’s road to a record-equalling third New Zealand Cup.
Because that road is going to run predominantly through the two big South Island lead-up races, setting up some mouth-watering clashes with Self Assured and Akuta.
Copy That has been back doing serious hoppled work for a week and Green says he has a lot to work with.
“He has come back big and round because he really can put weight on when he has a spell.
“But he looks and feels good.”
Copy That is searching to become the fourth horse after Indianapolis, False Step and Terror To Love to win three New Zealand Cups and Green says that makes it the main and only real target for the remainder of 2023.
But in the last two successful campaigns Copy That has raced in the north for his lead-ups or last season in the north, Victoria and then the north again.
This time though Green says he will head south earlier to give Copy That quality opposition to hone his fitness without the rigours of a trip to Australia.
“He might have one run up here in the Spring Cup but after that he will go south for races like the Canterbury Classic and the Flying Stakes at Ashburton.
“I think the lead-up races there are both more likely to get off the ground and will be stronger and he is going to need that level of racing to have his best chance to win the Cup.”
That sets up the possibility of the big three, now all Cup winners after Akuta’s Auckland Cup triumph, going head to head to head at least twice before the Cup and maybe even three times depending if Addington hold an open class race between the Flying Stakes at the Cup.
Copy That won’t be travelling alone either as former southern pacer The Big Lebowski is still in Green’s care and is also on a NZ Cup path so will start in the same races to prove his Cup credentials.
“I am sure he is up to it so we will give him the chance to show us he is.”
If Copy That and The Big Lebowski stay in the north for the Spring Cup that should ensure at least the first northern open class race gets off the ground with several newcomers having emerged in the last 12 months to provide the north with a better open class base than it has had in some time.
But if the big three and a strong support cast turn up for the Canterbury Classic, Flying Stakes and potentially another Addington open class race before the Cup there should be some interesting story lines written.
Because one thing looks for sure: no horse is dominant enough to win all the lead-up races and the great race, which is now 14 weeks away.