By Michael Guerin
Dual New Zealand Cup hero Copy That has been handed the perfect opportunity to put a $1milllion exclamation mark on his career at Cambridge on Friday night.
The wonderful pacer is likely to start from the seemingly perfect barrier 3 in The Race by Grins, the $1million slot race which will have eight New Zealand and two Australian visitors for its second running.
Copy That drew barrier 4 on Monday night but emergency Smiffys Terror drew barrier two and is unlikely to gain a start so the favourite will almost certainly start from 3 with one of the other favourites Old Town Road drawn inside him at 2.
The only mare in the race No Matter Wat was guaranteed the ace draw but is unlikely to be a factor in the early burn in her first open class start so most punters will be expected Copy That and Old Town Road to end up in a lead-trail scenario.
They were the two big winners in the draw as the other two horses who shared $4 equal favouritism over the weekend in Self Assured and Akuta both drew the second line.
Self Assured, who won the inaugural Race by Grins starting from barrier 8 and coming from last last year, will start from 2 on the second line most likely following out Old Town Road while Akuta will follow out Copy That.
There was no luck for local pacers Kango (8) and Nicholas Cage (9) while the two Victorian raiders Better Eclipse (7) and Triple Eight (5) have tricky front line draws.
Copy That has taken punters, and his connections, on a rollercoaster ride in the last 18 months.
At his best he has won two New Zealand Cups, a Ballarat Cup and recorded some national-record smashing victories off ludicrous handicaps but he has also fractured a leg kicking a fence in Victoria in December 2021 and suffered an official internal bleed after choking down as hot favourite in the Hunter Cup in February.
Most of the lows on that rollercoaster have been in Australia and he has been incredibly consistent during his open class career in New Zealand, and at his most potent when he is able to lead.
While he is not certain to secure that role in the 2200m mobile on Friday the market will price him as the likely leader and it wouldn’t surprise to see him start odds on.
The driver with potentially the most say in that could be Zachary Butcher, who will partner Old Town Road from barrier 2.
He showed good gate speed and worked hard early before fading late to fourth in the Flying Mile at Cambridge last Thursday, a race brilliantly won by Self Assured over Copy That after they came from well back.
“I am really confident he (Old Town Road) will be a better horse this week and watching the draw was quite nerve-wracking because by the time we got to choose there was only one good barrier left so I am stoked with two,” says Butcher.
If he is able to cross to the markers early would Butcher want to stay in front or take a trail?
“Anybody who wants to know that will have to tune in to find out,” smiles Butcher.
The Race by Grins will be the last race on a fast and furious Cambridge card with over 3000 tickets already sold and club officials capping the event at 5000.
$1million Race by Grins - Cambridge, Friday night
1: No Matter Wat
2: Smiffys Terror (em)
3: Old Town Road
4: Copy That
5: Triple Eight
6: B D Joe
7: Better Eclipse
9: Nicholas Cage (1 second line)
10: Self Assured