Trainer Ray Green insists Copy That (American Ideal) is the horse to beat in Saturday week’s $500,000 Hunter Cup.
Off the back of last night’s (Jan. 21) easy Ballarat Cup win, Green believes his stable star is in the best form of his harness racing career.
“I think he’s the best he’s ever been,” he said. “He’s always had the speed, but he’s kept maturing over the past couple of years and getting stronger.
“He’s the horse to beat in the Hunter Cup on what we saw last night. It was a pretty comprehensive win.”
Driver Blair Orange worked forward from gate five on Copy That and took the lead from former Kiwi pacer Cranbourne soon after the start.
He kept a solid tempo in front, but was always cruising and held-off the talented Honolua Bay to win by 2.8m with veteran former Kiwi Triple Eight running a bold race for third.
“Blair said he did it easily. He was very happy,” Green said.
“He didn’t have to ask much of him. He just gave him one flick of the whip when they came at him because he’s notorious for anticipating the finish and switching-off.
“But Blair gave him that flick and away he went again to win easily.”
THAT’S A CHAMP!
Two-time NZ Cup champ Copy That leads all the way to score in the PETstock Ballarat Pacing Cup for Ray Green and Blair Orange, winning ahead of Triple Eight and Honolua Bay.
Terrific TAB Summer of Glory moment, bring on the Feb 4 Del-Re National A. G. Hunter Cup. pic.twitter.com/iyb4vCXCC3
— The Trots (@TheTrotsComAu) January 21, 2023
Copy That ripped home in 56.1 and 27.3sec for a 1min56.2sec mile rate over the long 2710m trip.
“It’ll be a pretty similar field in the Hunter Cup and he beat them well last night,” Green said.
“I thought Honolua Bay was the other big run in the race. He’s obviously improving and the barrier draws will be interesting.”
The other Kiwi raider Old Town Road also lost no admirers after a luckless run and making late ground for fifth.
The race was as much about disappointments as it was Copy That’s dominance.
Cranbourne failed to reproduce his exciting Shepparton Cup win and could only manage eight place.
But the major talking points were favoured pair Rock N Roll Doo and Major Meister, who ran second-last and last respectively.
Rock N Roll Doo had a good run, but couldn’t go when stand-in driver Anthony Butt asked him to.
Major Meister, winner of the Cranbourne and Bendigo Cups, was stuck outside the leader and overraced before tiring badly from the 500m.
For complete race results, click here.
by Adam Hamilton, for Harness Racing New Zealand