Maurice: Copy That oh so brave in the cup but he just wanted to keep charging
“He would have won it for fun if he’d led. Man he was brave.”
Driver Maurice McKendry’s summation of Copy That’s close third in tonight’s $196,000 Woodlands Auckland Cup only served to confirm that while he didn’t win, his was the run of the race.
Copy That’s chances of leading evaporated within the first 200 metres of the cup when, despite beginning well and holding Amazing Dream, he was crossed by Spankem with driver Natalie Rasmussen flapping the reins furiously at her charge.
Another 200 metres later McKendry found himself three deep on Copy That when Spankem handed up to Mark Purdon on stablemate Amazing Dream.
It looked curtains for Copy That when 400 metres further on a third All Stars’ runner Ashley Locaz whistled round and was gifted the top, relegating the Lincoln Farms’ star four deep.
The All Stars’ musical chairs continued soon after when Rasmussen came around again to retake the lead on Spankem, Copy That escaping being hopelessly hemmed in when Tony Herlihy eased Gambit, allowing McKendry to get out 2000 metres from home.
“When I got off the markers I tried to get him going as quietly as I could but he just wanted to keep charging,” McKendry said.
“He was just too strong … If he’d relaxed a wee bit earlier …”
Despite having no cover for the final two laps, Copy That still dug deep in the home straight, going down by only a neck and half a length despite being squeezed up in the final stages by the two All Stars’ runners.
“I got tightened but I didn’t have to stop driving, I still had plenty of racing room,” said McKendry when approached by the stewards inviting the camp to view the film.
The merit of Copy That’s performance was underlined by the time winner Amazing Dream ran, the 3200 metres cut out in a sizzling 3:56.5, 2.9 seconds faster than Self Assured took to win the race last year. Only Dream About Me has gone faster in the cup, clocking 3:55.4 in 2016 when the race reverted to a standing 3200 metres.
Trainer Ray Green was amazed to see his little fighter come again at the finish, making ground on the first two in the last few metres.
“It’s just unfortunate he got hung out to dry so far from home. But there’s no doubt in my mind it was the run of the race.”
Green also marvelled at the rare recovery rate of Copy That. “He’s pulled up really well and will head next to the Flying Mile at Cambridge next Friday.”
Only after that race will Green and owner Merv Butterworth decide whether to have a shot at the A$1 million Miracle Mile at Menangle outside Sydney on March 6.
“He’d need to be winning at Cambridge. If he can’t beat then here, there’s no point in going over there to take on King Of Swing and the others.”
Green also had to settle for third in the $200,000 Harness Million with American Dealer whose performance was excellent from the outside of the gate.
“Both horses have gone great. I was just hoping for better trips.”
Driver David Butcher was forced to drop back to the tail on American Dealer but made a big run round the field to park at the 900. While he fought doggedly in the straight, he had no answer to the All Stars’ pair Aladdin, who trailed before grabbing pacemaker Shan Noble by half a neck.
“David said he just flattened out the last 50 but he was entitled to do that,” Green said.
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Why Lincoln Farms had to buy lot 68 - his older brother Lincoln Lou is ready to rock
At last, Argyle gets the pole on Saturday night and Mark reckons it’s his big chance to salute
Our runners this week: How our trainers rate them
Friday night at Cambridge
Race 3: Lincoln Lou
“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
“I won’t be holding my breath. He tries hard enough but he lacks a bit of high speed.”
Race 8: Onyx Shard
“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
“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
“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
“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’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.”