Up-and-comer versus the Champ at Alexandra Park tonight
By Michael Guerin
A horse who was a maiden when Copy That won the New Zealand Cup just nine months ago could rain on his comeback parade at Alexandra Park tonight.
Old Town Road may still have only won five races compared with Copy That’s 24 victories but their workout performances last week and handicaps tonight suggest Old Town Road can beat the glamour pacer in their 2200m clash.
Copy That downed Self Assured and South Coast Arden in the Cup at Addington last but fractured a leg bone in Victoria the following month so will be having his first start in eight months in race 8 tonight.
He looked forward enough to resume but was clearly outpointed by Old Town Road in their workout at Pukekohe last week and while Old Town Road had a head start on him then he gets the same tonight.
Perhaps even more importantly Old Town Road looked sharper than Copy That last week, sprinting away from him at the top of the straight and while Copy That will improve more Old Town Road could get crucial field position over him tonight.
While he starts off a 10m handicap it is doubtful the three horses on the front line would have the speed to hold out Old Town Road if he came looking for the front, whereas
Copy That’s motivation is questionable tonight as he has far bigger races coming up, many of them in Victoria.
It would surprise to see him take off mid-race and challenge so he faces coming with one run, making him vulnerable to tempo.
Driver Zachary Butcher has a foot in both camps, working for Copy That’s trainer Ray Green but driving Old Town Road and he rates his chances of beating the outstanding pacer tonight.
“Copy That is obviously a great horse but I have thought Old Town Road was an open class horse since I first drove him,” says Butcher.
“I think with the way the handicaps are and their fitness I get my shot this week.
“It is going to be a tough year for Old Town Road as he is going to need to learn to race with those good horses but this week we get a decent head start.”
Copy That can, of course, still win but backing horses fresh up after long breaks starting off big handicaps in 2200m races at Alexandra Park is a near guaranteed way to end tonight with less money than you start.
A similar problem faces wonderful veteran Temporale in the main trot tonight because while he has had a lot more recent racing than Copy That he faces a massive 55m backmark over 2200m.
That means unless his rivals drivers dawdle and hand the race to him he may need to done something freakish to win, especially coming wide over the last lap.
Tonight’s meeting also features the return of high class juvenile pacing fillies Kahlua Flybye and Forever Me in race five.
Both are trained by Steve Telfer who thinks Kahlua Flybye is the better winning chance.
“They are both very good fillies but Kahlua Flybye is the faster and is very forward so this looks her race,” says Telfer.