By Jonny Turner
Co-owner Meg Butterworth perfectly summed up the feelings of those watching Copy That’s win in the Alabar 3yr-old Classic at Alexandra Park on Saturday night when she said she “nearly died three times” during the heart-stopping event.
The Ray Green trained pacer set the hearts fluttering among punters who backed him in to $2.10 win odds in the group 2 feature when galloping at the 1800m before again setting pulses racing in a nail-biting finish with runner-up One Change.
His trainer, owner and backers admitted Copy That gave them a fright, but one man who remained unmoved by the 3yr-old’s antics was his driver.
David Butcher was at his cool and calculating best when getting Copy That back down and pacing before after his gallop an then nursing him to the finish.
Copy That looked more like a $50 shot when he flew out of his gear when Butcher handed the lead away the horse’s stablemate, Line Up, and driver Anthony Butt.
Butcher said it was then that his horse, raced by Butterworth and her husband, Merv, reverted to some old tricks.
“He used to do it as a young horse – what I am thinking is when Ants has come around he has relaxed and then he has just popped out a bit.”
“It is a little habit that we thought that we got him out of, but he brought it back tonight.”
Though he may not have shown it during the 2200m feature, Butcher said Copy That has been pacing better since running second behind One Change in the Sires Stakes Series Final.
“He is a pretty nice horse, it has taken a little bit to get him there.”
“Ray has done a few little things with his gait that have really helped, because he was really rough down in Christchurch.”
“When he ran second he ran in on a couple of the corners, and he is actually a little bit better left handed.”
Butcher did not look to panic when One Change surged at Copy That late in the home straight.
The reinsman said Copy That was already doing his absolute best at in the final 100m.
“When you’re running a 55sec half (800m) and a 27sec quarter (400m) and they have run 2.37 you can’t go much better.”
“I am a great believer that most horses do try – some of them have had enough – but most of them will try.”
Copy That officially stopped the clock in 2-37.3 for 2200m, running home in 55.9 (800m) and 27.5 (400m).
The pacer will not clash with many of the rivals he beat on Saturday night in the next 3yr-old male pacing feature of the season – he is ineligible for the upcoming Yearling Sales Series Final.
Green said he and the Butterworths would need to plan where Copy That will go next.
The Victoria Derby at Melton is a possible target for the pacer.