Thursday is D-Day for Copy That
By Adam Hamilton
Kiwi star Copy That will have a lovely trailing draw if he makes it to Saturday night’s Group 1 Victoria Cup.
Ray Green’s NZ Cup winner drew gate eight, following out second-favourite Better Eclipse (gate one) at last night’s barrier draw.
We won’t know until Green has Copy That scoped on Thursday whether the five-year-old is right to take his spot in the race.
That’s because Copy That had a grade two “bleed” when fifth in last Saturday night’s Group 2 Smoken Up Sprint at Melton.
Better Eclipse and NSW raider Expensive Ego (gate two) were the biggest winners from the Cup draw.
They dominate the Aussie betting market with Expensive Ego at $2.40 and Better Eclipse at $3.20. Copy That is a $9 shot.
Others right in the market are NZ Cup hopefully Rock N Roll Doo (gate four, $7.50) and the brilliant Honolua Bay (gate five, $7.50).
Honolua Bay could be the first leader, although Torrid Saint (gate seven) and even Better Eclipse from the pole will surely be looking for the top.
Expensive Ego is the most fascinating runner, having won just one race since being stripped of the NSW Inter Dominion final at Menangle 10 months ago.
But co-trainer and driver Luke McCarthy is both thrilled with the draw and Expensive Ego’s preparation.
“He’s as good as we’ve had him. Don’t worry about the light preparation, he’s fit. Very fit,” he said. “And the draw is good. It’s close to ideal for him. He’s in the running and in the early mix from there.”
Champion driver Chris Alford thinks he can team with former Kiwi horseman Brent Lilley to win Saturday night’s Group 1 Bill Collins Trotters’ Sprint with brilliant young mare Queen Elida despite a back row draw in the 1720m race.
“It’s not the end of the world,” he said. “She’s probably the fastest trotter I’ve driven. She can go from cruising to explosive speed in the click of a finger.
“I think there’s a bit of speed on the front row, too. Hopefully they run hard for the first few hundred metres while we’re sitting back waiting to swoop.”
Queen Elida’s main danger is Chris Lang’s Kiwi-bred Ollivici, who will be looking for the front from gate six.
Olivici is actually a slight $2.70 favourite ahead of Queen Elida ($3.20) with the much-improved Just Believe at $6 from gate four.
Barry Purdon’s Kiwi raider Major Perry will need luck from a wide front row draw (gate six) in a hot Victoria Derby final. He’s a $10 shot.
Queensland star Leap To Fame, chasing his third Derby of the season, got a big advantage over freakish local Captain Ravishing.
Leap To Fame will start from gate five and most likely work to the lead, while Captain Ravishing has the back row (gate 10), but will come into nine if emergency Catch A Wave doesn’t get a run.
Nathan Purdon’s hopes of winning the Victoria Oaks with Amore Vita will now rely on some luck from an inside back row draw (gate eight).
“I don’t mind the draw. I’m inclined to stay on the pegs, even it means we could end-up three back on the inside,” driver Chris Alford said.
The best of Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin’s fillies, Encipher, is a commanding Oaks favourite at $2 from gate four.
The Melton meeting will also see the return to racing of megastar mare Ladies In Red, who will dominate betting against her sex in the first leg of the Victorian Mares’ Triple Crown, the Group 3 Make Mine Cullen.