It only took 75 years but Pukekohe coach Ray Green had a New Zealand Cup starter, and is now a favorite.
The popular north coach had one of his greatest days in office yesterday when Copy That knocked out his opponents at the Ashburton Flying Stakes just an hour after American Dealer beat the southerners in the heat of the Sires’ Stakes.
The latest win was Green’s 400th training success in New Zealand but the 401 victory was all the more meaningful as Copy That raced through one of the fastest last 400m sections ever recorded in this part of the world.
After working for the lead by a mile from the 2400m stand, Flying Stakes started to leave, Copy That unleashed the final 400m 25.2 seconds, not much slower than any decent race would have raced for the same piece.
That meant the previous NZ Cup favorite Self Assured couldn’t make the ground after sitting in the park while Spankem, who was sitting on the sole clawing his way to third.
The fact that the three favorites settled in the last three places and still dominated suggests one of them should win the $ 540,000 Cup in Addington on November 10, which now Copy That and Self Assured share $ 2.80 of favoritism.
The copy was so fast that, if he could achieve another Cup lead, it would take something better than what we saw yesterday to beat him, with Green not worried about the extra 800m of the Cup even though the Copy was just a four year old who didn’t. ever race for the last ride.
“I don’t think it will bother him, not the way he will stop after this,” said Green.
“You won’t even know he’s been racing, he’s just jogging.
So I think he’s going to tackle the 3200m and I’ll take him to the Cup trials (Addington next week) now just to keep it ticking.
Green has accomplished much in his harness racing career, training and riding horses in Wales and Ireland and has had consistent group-level success with horses such as Sir Lincoln and King Of Swing since taking over as trainer for Lincoln Farms.
But he never even started in the New Zealand Cup, a race every New Zealand rope coach wants to win.
“It’s a tough race to get a horse, let alone win. So I think I’ll be really excited over the next week or two as we get closer,” said Green, who was usually curt.
While the All Stars stables tend to hold a grip on New Zealand Cup favoritism and punters’ hearts, Copy That suggested yesterday if he could take the lead in the Cup he would take an awful lot of run down, especially since this Cup may not have many good enough horses to attack, or hold him to take the lead in this.
So, the draw of the barrier on Wednesday next week will be of great importance, especially as Self Assured looks set to start off on a roll and therefore could give The Copy a great start if the latter draws the front lines.
Green also expects a useful draw and marker run on Cup Day for American Dealers, who beat It’s All About Faith and Krug in the Heat Stakes Sires.
Against the marker, whether leading or trailing, the American dealer can beat the south star but if a horse like Krug, who was brave third after sitting parked yesterday, is in front of him the Sires bet may be over.
However, Green’s brace yesterday revived the Day Cup, which has so dominated the South Island over the past decade.
Another feature of Sunday also goes to another leader in Majestic Man, who used gate speed and high cruising tempo to escape the Flying Mile Trotter at 1: 54.1, just outside of Marcoola’s national mile record.
There’s some good runs behind it but not much that will scare Sundees’ favorite Dominion for what’s ahead in the iconic trot in Addington in two weeks.