By Josh Smith – Harness News Desk
The Gr.1 New Zealand Cup (3200m) is the pinnacle for many trainers in New Zealand and South Auckland horseman Ray Green believes he has the horse that could be a major contender in the time-honoured race this year.
His exciting colt Copy That has had a standout three-year-old term winning six of his 10 starts and placing in the remaining four.
The season was highlighted by victories in the Gr.2 Three-Year-Old Classic (2200m) and Gr.2 Flying Stakes (1980m), while he also finished runner-up in the Gr.1 Sires’ Stakes Final (1980m) and Gr.1 Northern Derby (2700m).
“You couldn’t fault what he did (this season), he stamped himself as one of the best,” Green said. “The last start (Flying Stakes) was the most impressive for me.”
Green labelled Copy That has one of the best horses he has trained and he is excited about what lies ahead for the son of American Ideal.
“He’s as good a horse as we have ever had, we are pretty fired up about him,” Green said.
“We will put a nomination in for the New Zealand Cup and we will see where we are at at the time.”
The classy colt has some big targets in front of him and he will kick-off his campaign in the McMurty Farms Handicap Pace (2700m) at Alexandra Park on Wednesday night.
Green has been pleased with the way his charge has been progressing in his work, however, he cited his 45m handicap as a major concern in his first-up assignment.
“He is really thriving,” Green said. “His work has been good and he has trialled well. I think it will probably take him a couple of runs to get back to where he was the last time he raced.
“I think he is classy enough to still win it in spite of the 45m handicap, but I wouldn’t want to label him as a sure thing.
“He will be vulnerable because of his lack of race fitness, but he is a classy individual.”
TAB bookmakers have installed Copy That as a $2.90 second favourite behind On The Cards at $2.30.
Copy That won’t be the only stable representative having his first-up run on Wednesday night, with Green also lining up half a dozen fresh hopefuls.
American Dealer, Larry Lincoln, and Man Of Action have all pleased Green in their recent trials and he believes they will all put in a good showing in the Dawson Harford Mobile Pace (2200m).
“Larry Lincoln is having his second lifetime start,” Green said. “He had a few little issues early on, but he seems fine now and is trialling well.
“Man Of Action trialled particularly well, and so did American Dealer, so I am confident all three of them will go a good race.”
Green will also line-up a trio of runners in the PGG Wrightson Mobile Pace (2200m) and he believes debutant Apieceoflou is one to watch for the future.
“Franco Nandor and Captain Nemo are probably better prospects at this stage,” Green said. “Apieceoflou is still on the way up and the experience won’t hurt him. He looks like a nice horse for the future.”