By Michael Guerin
Two of the most exciting young horses in the country provide punters a difficult puzzle to solve in the feature races at Alexandra Park tonight.
Because if Copy That (R8, No.4) and Bolt For Brilliance (R9, No.3) have the manners to match their motors tonight they will almost certainly be too fast for their older, better-credentialed rivals.
But one false step by either could leave punters with a financial bleeding nose.
Bolt For Brilliance is a former Jewels winner in a vintage crop of now four-year-old trotters and the way he peeled off a 27-second last 400m when winning at the Pukekohe workouts last Friday suggest the best-behaved version of him wins tonight.
His champion trainer-driver Tony Herlihy expects him to be dialled in to the standing start but admits it is not always that simple, especially fresh up.
“I think he will be fine cause he has been stepping well at the workouts,” said Herlihy.
“But there are some good race-hardened horses in there who won’t make it easy.”
Two of those of horses Herlihy knows well, he trains race rival Kenny’s Dream while used to train Rowe Cup winner Temporale, who now resides with Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett for beach training.
“I drove Temporale at the workouts two weeks ago and he is really well but if they all step off the mark and race well it would be very hard to see him giving Bolt For Brilliance a 40m start over 2200m.
“So it isn’t an easy race but I glad to have him back (Bolt For Brilliance) and looking forward to his clash with Cracker Hill and Ultimate Stride, because it looks a very good bunch.”
Copy That was so stunning last start beating all the rivals he faces in tonight’s main pace it is impossible to tip against him, especially if he happened to secure his favoured pacemaking role again.
But that is no gimme tonight as he faces only the third standing start of his career rather than the mobile he drew well in last start.
Copy That has yet to win in two standing starts but neither was because of poor manners but making tonight even more difficult is the fact he faces a 10m handicap, with four rivals behind him on the 20 back mark, creating a less that ideal potentially claustrophobic situation for him.
Trainer Ray Green is confident Copy That will handle the standing start but even a smooth but slow beginning could see him settle behind key rivals like Belle Of Montana, Triple Eight or Mach Shard, who would be reluctant to let him have his own way after.
So those first five steps in tonight’s 2200m stand could determine whether Copy That continues on his winning way or whether one of those three key rivals get their chance, especially as they should all be significantly improved by their first up runs.
Triple Eight could be best suited by the conditions but he will be without regular driver David Butcher tonight and all the Waikato-based horsepeople are excluded from tonight’s meeting because of the Auckland region’s Level 3 lockdown status.
Tonight’s meeting will also be closed to the public and owners, with racing participants only allowed.