The jury’s still out on whether Copy That can come back to try to win a third Trotting Cup for owners Merv and Meg Butterworth. PHOTO: Ajay Berry.

Copy That has surgery and starts recovery but no answer yet to the $64,000 question

It could be March before we’ll know if Copy That has recovered well enough to make a return to the racetrack.

The dual New Zealand Trotting Cup winner had surgery at the Ballarat Veterinary Practice in Victoria last Thursday when worn bone and cartilage and fragments were removed from his knee.

The horse will be confined to a small box at the nearby Dowling View Equine Centre for the next three weeks before being moved to a small yard for another five weeks, allowed out for twice-daily walks.

Owner Merv Butterworth said dependant on good results from scans Copy That would then be flown home to begin his rehabilitation with five weeks on a water walker.

Only at that stage, after further testing, would a call be made on the horse’s future.

“If all is well and Copy That is given the green light to proceed with full time training, it will be 13 weeks from now before he is seen and heard again at Lincoln Farms.

“Here’s hoping that the significant fighting power that Copy That has shown to date will help him through this recovery stage.”

Dr Brian Anderson is overseeing Copy That’s treatment at Ballarat.Dr Brian Anderson is overseeing Copy That’s treatment at Ballarat.It is the second time that Ballarat vet Dr Brian Anderson has overseen the treatment and recovery of Copy That, after his initial injury in December, 2021 when he fractured a splint bone.

Since that episode Copy That has won a second New Zealand Trotting Cup, a $1 million Race By Grins and more than $1 million in prizemoney, giving Lincoln Farms’ trainer Ray Green plenty of hope that he can make another comeback.

“He came through that first drama great so we know he can do it,” Green said. “But he is a little older now and has a bit of wear and tear which may necessitate a different programme for him.

“We don’t really know for sure the prognosis. All we can do is press on and follow the programme.

“Everyone has had horses with this kind of injury, it’s quite common. If the cartilage has been compromised too much that can cause problems down the road but these days there are medications to keep them on track.”

Cartilage, which protects the bone by absorbing some of the force placed on the horse’s legs, is a poor healer by itself. But there are various medications that help cartilage regenerate.

“I’m sure he’ll be on everything we can put him on,” Green said.

“My gut feeling is that if nothing else goes wrong, we’re in good shape. If there’d been something sinister the MRI scan would have sussed it.

“As soon as he’s done the water treadmill work we should be able to assess him properly. Until then we’re just guessing but, knowing the horse, I’m optimistic.

“Unless something catastrophic happens I’m sure he’ll come back - to what level we don’t know yet. But we want him firing on all eight cylinders.”

The horse’s myriad of fans will be hoping that happens and he can tilt at a record-equalling third New Zealand Trotting Cup next November.

Our runners this week

Saturday night at Albion Park


Our runners this week: How our trainer rates them

Ray Green

Ray’s comments

Friday night at Auckland

Race 2: Frisco Bay

“He obviously needed the run last week. He pulled his way round the field and sat outside the leader but he couldn’t cop a run like that first-up and got tired. The ability is there, whether he’s fit enough or not we’ll find out. But I expect him to go well, the three draw is much better than last week.”

Race 2: Lenny Lincoln

“He’ll probably need a race but he’s capable of running a slot. He’s unlucky not to have won a race, all three of his seconds were good. He’s got a bit better with each of his trials this time in and he got home well last Saturday, after coming widest on the turn.”

Race 3: Obadiah Dragon

“The way the race was run at Cambridge last week, his effort wasn’t bad at all. Moni (Monika Ranger) said he felt strong and, if he’d been a few slots closer, he would have been right in it. He’ll be improved for the run.”

Race 3: Leo Lincoln

“He’s very consistent - he’s only missed a couple of cheques. But he’s another just coming back and should improve with the run.”

Whales Harness