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Copy That will stay home for Easter but trip’s on for $250,000 Queensland feature in July

In an exciting change of plans, the Easter Cup is off the menu for star pacer Copy That but he will climax his season with a tilt at a new A$250,000 race in Queensland in July.

Owner Merv Butterworth and Lincoln Farms’ trainer Ray Green today ruled out taking Copy That to Christchurch for the Easter Cup on April 3, two long road trips and a 3200 metre race not considered ideal at this stage of his preparation.

But the camp has started making plans to take Copy That to Brisbane after the Harness Jewels at Cambridge (on June 6) to contest the inaugural A$250,000 Rising Sun on July 10, the richest harness race in the southern hemisphere for three and four-year-old pacers.

The 2138 metre race, which was to have debuted in 2020 but was cancelled because of COVID-19, will be a highlight of the winter Constellations Carnival.

Copy That after his 17th win in the City Of Auckland Free-for-all.Copy That after his 17th win in the City Of Auckland Free-for-all.The event is expected to draw the best age group pacers from around Australia but Racing Queensland and the Albion Park Harness Racing Club have the option to issue invitations to up to two three-year-olds and two four-year-olds. Three-year-olds will benefit from a preferential draw and earn a bonus of A$100,000 should they win.

Former Lincoln Farms’ star youngster Line Up was invited last year after winning the New South Wales and Victoria Derbies and this time an invitation has already been handed out to recent Chariots Of Fire winner Expensive Ego.

Green fancies the idea of a trip to sunny Queensland in July and says Florida owners Marc Hanover and Gordon Banks are also keen to take Northern Derby placegetter American Dealer there for the A$100,000 Queensland Derby on July 24.

“He and Copy That can travel over together which will help. Dealer would stay over there but that was always going to happen. There’s nothing else for him here as he’d be in open class through the winter.

“There are lots of opportunities for him in Australia and then I guess he would go on to the United States.”

Green says while he will be taking American Dealer to Christchurch for the Flying Stakes and New Zealand Derby, Copy That would have to travel a week earlier which would have made things awkward.

“With no flights, it’s not a trip you want to do unless you have to. And we don’t need to go to the Easter Cup, we’ve got plenty of options.

Merv Butterworth … a trip to Brisbane for Copy That has been on his radar since the new July 10 feature was confirmed.Merv Butterworth … a trip to Brisbane for Copy That has been on his radar since the new July 10 feature was confirmed.“If it had been 2600 metres it might have been different but the Easter Cup is going to be a tough 3200 metres and it comes just three weeks before the Noel Taylor Mile and Messenger which are both Group I races on our doorstep which he looks to have by the throat.

“I’ll freshen him up a bit now and concentrate on those.”

Green has not yet consulted Butterworth on who might drive Copy That in Brisbane where local knowledge of the Albion Park circuit would be a real asset.

“There’ll be lots of good drivers there and I’m sure there will be a few queuing up to jump on him.”

In New Zealand the driving duties have been shared by Maurice McKendry for northern races and Blair Orange for races in the south.

Copy That’s City Of Auckland Free-for-all win last Friday night boosted his career tally to 17 wins and eight placings from 33 starts for $358,529 in stakes.

Our runners this week: How our trainers rate them

Ray Green

Ray’s comments

Friday night at Cambridge

Race 3: Lincoln Lou
6.39pm

“He’s a beautiful little horse and I’m looking forward to seeing him run. It’s hard to know how good he is, or how far he’ll go, but I guess we’ll find out on Friday. He’s the one to beat from the draw. If he doesn’t win, he won’t be far away.”

Race 5: Commander Lincoln
7.31pm

“I won’t be holding my breath. He tries hard enough but he lacks a bit of high speed.”

Race 8: Onyx Shard
8.55pm

“It’s two and a half months since she last raced, and she didn’t grow as much as I thought she would, but I’m expecting her to go a good race. Her last two trials have been good and she’s pulled up well.”

Race 8: Obadiah Dragon
8.55pm

“He’ll need a good trip from five but he’s not out of it. He went a good race last time at Cambridge and would be as equal a chance as Onxy Shard.”

Race 8: Beaudiene Rocknroll
8.55pm

“It’s heart-in-the-mouth stuff with him until they let them go but he should step away this time. Zac (Butcher) said the gate went particularly slowly before that race and that’s why he got impatient. I thought he did well to recover for third. If he made the front, where he goes best, he’d be hard to beat.”

Race 9: Frisco Bay
9.22pm

“He’s a tidy horse and I’m expecting a big run. We’ve sorted the problem he had with his breathing last season and he’s right in the zone now after a second and a win at the workouts.”

Mark Dux

Mark Dux’s comments

Saturday night at Albion Park

Race 5: Argyle
11.02pm NZ time

“It wouldn’t have mattered where he drew this week, he’s in the money, barring bad luck. He’s going terrific and he gets in so well at the ratings.”

Dan Costello Race Photography