by Michael Guerin, HRNZ
Friday was a good day for Ray Green and he is hoping a Friday a few weeks away is even better.
Green’s stable star Copy That got the perfect confidence-boosting win in the $45,000 City Of Auckland Free-For-All at Alexandra Park, easily wresting the lead from Kango early and then controlling the race.
He only sprinted up the straight in the hands of Blair Orange to hold out Kango with Smiffy’s Terror third as the leaders dominated, aided by Self Assured and Alta Wiseguy locking wheels at the 400m mark and costing themselves and those behind them their chances.
They were never going to catch the winner anyway as we all know how potent Copy That is when allowed his own rules in front but there was a lot to like from Old Town Road in fourth and Akuta fifth, both making good ground and losing few fans.
The win capped a great day for Green who also got the thumbs up from his doctor over his recovery after being kicked by a horse and hospitalized in November.
“I lost 14kgs when it happened but I have put 10kgs back on and the doctor says I am basically back to normal,” says Green.
“So I am feeling good.”
Good enough to celebrate if Copy That is able to win The Race by Grins at Cambridge on April 14, for which Friday’s race was an important lead-up.
“I think it shows he is heading in the right direction,” says Green.
“It was more or less the perfect win and I will see how he comes through this before deciding whether I go to the Mile race at Cambridge the week before The Race.”
Green realises that draws could win the $1million race, as they did Friday’s contest.
“If we can draw 2 again like we did tonight I’d be thrilled.”
Kango’s second may be enough to earn him one of the three vacant slots still up for grabs in The Race, with plenty to like about the giant pacer being in it for popular local trainer Arna Donnelly, with the added bonus of the King of Cambridge in David Butcher in the sulky.
While initially ho-hum on the performance of Old Town Road trainer John Dickie said driver Zachary Butcher was still happy with how he ran home after the check while Mark Purdon was stoked with the late run of Akuta.
Friday’s race left TAB bookies confused as the rest of us with Akuta still the $4 favourite ahead of Copy That at $4.20, Old Town Road and Self Assured at $4.50.