By Michael Guerin
New Zealand Cup favourite Copy That faces another new challenge on his road to the great race at Alexandra Park this Friday.
The four-year-old finds himself in the almost unfathomable position as $2.50 favourite for the NZ Cup after entries closed last week and then things started to get bumpy for Self Assured.
The long-time NZ Cup favourite and his stablemate Spankem both missed the Hannon Memorial on Sunday with hoof issues caused by a hard training track and one thing punters don’t like is uncertainty.
But TAB bookie Matt Peden says that is not only one reasons Self Assured has been replaced as the New Zealand Cup favourite.
“Once Self Assured was put on the unruly we couldn’t really ask punters to take the same odds for the Cup as when he was starting off the front,” says Peden.
“So we have that, the fact he has been missing away and then missing a race in the Hannon, those things all pushed him out a bit more.”
So after getting as short as $1.90, Self Assured is $2.70 for those who think his manners will improve and the unruly will assist rather than harm him.
Peden says everything about Copy That has gone the other way, with great performances and good manners and the son of American Ideal who was $26 in the opening futures market could shorten even more should be continue on his winning way on Friday.
But to do so he is going to have to overcome starting from one on the second line over the 2200m, effectively giving away a start to the north’s best pacers.
He started off the inside draw from a 10m handicap to win in a similar field two starts ago but on that occasion four of his open class rivals were off 20m. This time he is giving most of them a start.
The northerners will be joined by Princess Tiffany and Another Masterpiece, who are stopping over in Auckland as they head to Victoria.
So while it is hard to see this week being an easy kill for Copy That if he is good enough to keep winning his $2.50 could shorten up even more.
There hasn’t been great money for many of the NZ Cup favourite, with Spankem backed early at $7 and now out to $9 but there was specking for southerners like U May Cullect and Robyns Playboy.
Peden says the market for the Dominion, which also became a little clearer when entries closed last week, took its biggest turn when Sundees Son smashed his rivals last start.
“Before then we had a whole clump of horses around that $5.50 to $7 mark but that was the performance that shifted the market for us.
“There haven’t been a lot plated at longer odds there yet.” Peden says the TAB book has been going “extremely well” and puts that down to a hard-working four-man team of price assessors as well as the great job the industry has done in making workout and trials videos accessible to everybody, including the bookies.
“That has made it very hard to keep good workouts and trials secret but we are lucky to have a really strong team who love what they do.”