The Big Lebowski demolishes his rivals by 11 lengths in his first start for Ray Green. PHOTO: Megan Liefting/Race Images.

Exciting The Big Lebowski damages a tendon - Merv’s dream of a NZ Cup quinella over

Owner Merv Butterworth’s dream of running one-two in the IRT New Zealand Trotting Cup were dashed today when The Big Lebowski was diagnosed with a hole in a tendon.

The giant pacer, who was expected to give Lincoln Farms’ trainer Ray Green a good second string behind dual cup winner Copy That in November’s $650,000 cup, was scanned today after developing filling around an ankle.

“He’s got a big hole in the flexor tendon in a hind leg, which is unusual,” Green said.

“He’ll need to have three to six months off which is very disappointing for Merv and Meg and I. We had high hopes of him being a cup contender.”

A routine check by Green’s wife Debbie, whose job it is to go over all the horses in Lincoln Farms’ stable, picked up the problem.

Merv Butterworth … dream of a cup quinella is over.Merv Butterworth … dream of a cup quinella is over.“We originally thought he might have an infection in the leg but it didn’t go away so we thought we’d better look at it more seriously.

“Nothing traumatic has happened to him that would cause the injury. The vet thought it could have been hovering for some time, waiting to launch itself, but you wouldn’t know.”

Green said it was hard to tell how serious the injury is yet but one positive sign was that the horse is still not lame.

“We’ve caught it in good time. If we’d pressed on we could have completely lost him as a racehorse.

“We now have to manage him for the next five or six months. He’ll need to be boxed for two or three months and with the proper treatment and a bit of patience there’s a good chance he’ll come back a new man.”

Green said it was a blow to lose The Big Lebowski who was being pointed firmly at the 3200 metre cup.

“He showed in the Auckland Cup he’s up with those other horses.”

Last turning for home, The Big Lebowski powered home to finish only 3.5 lengths from winner Akuta, full of running and hard held behind a wall of horses.

Tha run followed his northern debut for Green when he demolished his rivals by 11 lengths, clocking 2:38.4 for the 2200 metres, in one of the most spectacular wins seen on the course in years.

“He’s a lovely horse but you know what they say ‘speed kills’.”

Copy That … TAB bookies are offering a boosted price of $7 for the cup.Copy That … TAB bookies are offering a boosted price of $7 for the cup.Copy That on target

Green reported all was on target for Copy That in his attempt to become only the fourth horse to score a cup hat-trick after Indianapolis, False Step and Terror To Love.

“He’s been back in work for seven weeks after five weeks in the paddock. He’s training down well and I’m very happy with where he’s at.

“He should be ready to go in another three or four weeks. He doesn’t take a lot of work, doesn’t need drilling.”

Green says Copy That will contest the $25,000 Spring Cup (2200m) at Auckland on September 22 if the race gets off the ground.

“But we haven’t been able to rely on getting a start up here for the last three years - we’d be lucky to have three or four horses left up here at that level.”

If the race doesn’t go ahead, Copy That will trip south for the $60,000 Canterbury Classic (2600m) at Addington a week later.

While Copy That is a $5 equal second favourite behind Akuta in the opening cup futures market, bookies were today offering a special boosted price of $7.

“They never seem to take him seriously even though we’ve grandmothered them in the last two years,” Green said.

Our runners this week: How our trainers rate them

Ray Green

Ray’s comments

Friday night at Auckland

Race 1: Obadiah Dragon

“He’s the lowest rated in the field, so it will be tough for him, but he’s racing really well. He just doesn’t need any bad luck.”

Race 4: Lincoln La Moose

“You won’t see the best of him on Friday. It’s his first race since April and he’ll definitely need the run.”

Race 6: My Copy

“He’s no champion but he’s very honest and is always capable of finishing in the money. He only needs a fair crack at them.”

Race 7: Tyson

“You can forget about that debut run, it was a non-event for him the way the race panned out. He got way too far back and would need to have clocked ridiculous times to get into it. He has speed and feels like a nice horse but he’s very inexperienced. I wouldn’t expect him to round the others up but he won’t be disgraced.”

Race 7: Lincoln Lou

Update: Scratched on vet’s advice

“He’s a very nice colt. He’s a lot stronger this time in and he could develop into a serious horse. If he repeats his last run, he’ll be hard to beat. I think he might have the wood on Sugar Ray. He has better manners and probably a bit more speed too.”

Race 7: Sugar Ray Lincoln

“He won comfortably last time despite being three wide for much of the last lap and four wide turning for home. He’s a very good colt. There’s not much between him and Lincoln Lou.”

Race 9: Commander Lincoln

“He’s as honest as they come, he’d die for you, but he lacks a yard of sharp speed to be a serious horse. He has a draw upgrade and drops in class but things have to pan out for him.”

Mark Dux

Mark Dux’s comments

Friday night at Albion Park

Race 8: Captain Nemo
6.33pm NZ time

“It’s not an easy race and, from an average draw, we’ll drive him quietly again so he’ll be at the mercy of the tempo. If he gets the right trip, I could see him hitting the line well and sneaking into the money but after this run to tighten him up he’ll be all set to go, close to winning.”

Les Harding

Les Harding

Saturday night at Port Pirie

Race 5: Beaudiene Rocknroll
10.02pm NZ time

“I’m very happy with him and confident he’ll run a top race but it’s hard to predict how he’ll measure up given this is a big step-up in class compared with the horses he has raced against for his last two wins.”

Dan Costello Race Photography