Copy That NZ
Who is going to be crowned the 2021 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit Champion?
Will King Of Swing record back-to-back titles?
With two legs remaining, is his lead big enough to hold on?
Can a challenger emerge late and force a tie?
Today, the fifth leg of the seven-leg series was staged in the Shaky Isles with the running of the Gr.1 $600,000 IRT New Zealand Cup staged at Addington in Christchurch.
The famed 3200m standing start feature attracted the best of the best although the ongoing effects of the Covid-19 pandemic thwarted any attempt of any Australians participating in the great race, it was the same last year.
All pre-race hype centred on three runners – defending champion Self Assured was again representing the All-Stars operation of Mark Purdon and Hayden Cullen while the North Island prepared duo of Copy That (Ray Green – Blair Orange) and South Coast Arden (Brent Mangos – Natalie Rasmussen) carried plenty of support.
The start was always going to be crucial for a number of reasons.
Last year, Copy That was a well-fancied favourite after landing the inside draw but lost his early advantage when those wider on the track appeared to gain a flying start.
Today, Copy That drew wide off the front-line while both Self Assured and South Coast Arden (unruly) faced second line draws.
With a clean start afforded to all, Copy That stepped safely while Henry Hubert, Cranbourne and Vintage Cheddar all made early errors leaving Self Assured and South Coast Arden to dodge the mistake makers.
Outstanding performer Classie Brigade pounced on the early lead before releasing to Copy That within 400m of the start.
From there, driver Blair Orange had Copy That exactly where he wanted him to be and continued to dictate terms from that moment onwards.
And didn’t he dictate.
The first mile was covered in a very sedate 2:04.4.
Passing the 1500m marker, the moves from Self Assured and South Coast Arden commenced from back in the pack before Laver popped out sharply in front of the pair.
Entering the back straight, Copy That led the way from South Coast Arden while Self Assured landed one out, one back cover.
But Orange was at his accomplished best and continued to rate the pace with the American Ideal four-year-old entire as he covered the first half of the final mile in 59.9 seconds (31.6 & 28.3).
Naturally, Copy That was full of running and Orange allowed him to stride freely while South Coast Arden and Self Assured tried to match his revving engine.
The third quarter was timed in a scorching 26.9 seconds which made it mathematically impossible for most, if not all.
In the home straight, Copy That held a decisive margin over Self Assured who managed to edge past a gallant South Coast Arden.
With Orange blissfully aware of his accomplishment, he flourished his whip as he claimed his second victory in the country’s biggest event after scoring two years ago with Cruz Bromac.
The final split was timed in 27.5 seconds, the last mile in a stunning 1:54.3.
Copy That scored officially by 2.5 lengths over Self Assured who was a neck clear of South Coast Arden.
The winning time was 3:58.8 – a mile rate of 2:00.0.
The victory also registered the second time that Victorian based owners Merv and Meg Butterworth have landed the prized trophy after scoring with Arden Rooney back in 2015.
“I can’t split them, they’re so special in separate ways but I’m just thrilled this horse got the reward he deserved following what happened last year.” Butterworth said.
The leviathan couple purchased Copy That privately from Ray and Debbie Green after they paid just $7000 for him as a weanling.
With Orange and the Butterworth’s having cause for double celebrations, the victory was a first for his highly skilled conditioner.
Green, based at Lincoln Farms in Pukekohe, has prepared some of the absolute best pacers over an extended time including the likes of Sir Lincoln, King Of Swing, (My) Hard Copy, Rocknroll Lincoln, Besotted, Beaudiene Boaz, Line Up, Northview Hustler, American Dealer and Perfect Stride, among others.
But he rates his New Zealand Cup champion as the best he’s prepared.
“He’s the whole package, some of my others I sold on fairly quickly but there’s something special about this guy and winning the Cup proves it.” Green stated.
The two remaining legs of the current APG Grand Circuit season includes the Inter Dominion in Sydney next month and the Auckland Cup at Alexandra Park on New Year’s Eve.
So, King Of Swing leads the way with 220 points while Copy That and Amazing Dream sit equal second with 120 points.
King Of Swing and Amazing Dream are both nominated for the Inter Dominion while Copy That will return home and be set for his hometown feature.
If King Of Swing claims victory or at worst, finishes top three in the Inter Dominion, it will guarantee him victory in the Grand Circuit but if he misses out and Copy That or Amazing Dream score a victory in either the Inter Dominion or Auckland Cup, the spoils could be shared.
Let’s wait and see how this plays out.
It could be a thrilling finish for the APG Grand Circuit.