The champ is back!

By Michael Guerin

New Zealand Cup hero Copy That will make a surprise return to racing at Alexandra Park on Thursday night but he may not be in the country for long after that.

The wonderful pacer faces a daunting 30m handicap in the night’s main 2200m pace in his first race start since fracturing a leg in a paddock accident in Victoria last December, an incident that put his entire career in jeopardy.

Copy That has made a perfect recovery with veterinarians suggesting the fracture has healed to the extent trainer Ray Green doesn’t need to factor it in to future preparations.

So the five-year-old returns after two recent trials but with Green realistic about the comeback.

“He is well and really good in himself but it has been basically eight months since he raced,” says the Pukekohe horseman.

“That means he obviously can’t be at his peak while he also has the big handicap to overcome so as long as he comes through the race in good order I’ll be happy.”

Green says Copy That could even have another winter run here before he heads to Victoria for a campaign that starts with the A$100,000 Caduceus Classic on September 10 on his way to the A$300,000 Victoria Cup on October 8.

“We then plan to bring him back to New Zealand because we have a month until the Cup at Addington and then all going well he will go back to Australia for the Inter Dominions,” says Green.

That gives Copy That around $1.8million worth of opportunities to make up for lost time before the end of the year.

He would then have races like the Hunter Cup and Miracle Mile in Australia later in the summer before returning home for The Race by Grins at Cambridge and the Auckland Cup in May, all four races among those he missed because of his injury last year.

If Copy That makes it to Victoria he won’t be alone as Green is planning to take highly-promising three-year-old Simply Sam across for the Victoria Derby, which has its final the same night as the Victoria Cup.

“He is a very progressive horse and with not much here for the three-year-olds until November or December I’d like to go to.”

Copy That isn’t the only open class star facing an imposing handicap at Alexandra Park on Thursday night, with Temporale to start off 55m behind the front line over 2200m in the main trot.

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