Trainer Ray Green has some advice for punters worried about Copy That’s staying stats heading into tonight’s $95,000 Messenger at Alexandra Park: “Go back and watch the Auckland Cup.”
Green says Copy That’s massive third in that 3200m thriller on New Years Eve is the only proof punters should need that he will handle the 2700m mobile in tonight’s four-year-old Group 1.
Copy That is the hot favourite for the Messenger as he tries to complete a double with last week’s Taylor Mile that tends to lead to greatness for those special enough to achieve it.
He led all the way last Friday and from barrier two is expected to assume control even easier tonight so the Messenger looks his to lose, but any punter looking to get seriously involved in backing him might do a double take at his staying stats: one win in six career starts past 2400m.
With his high cruising speed and short coupled frame Copy That probably is at his most potent sprinting but trainer Green says the Auckland Cup third behind Amazing Dream and Spankem after he was parked for much of the race leaves no doubts his stable star will stay.
“That allayed any fears for me and should for anybody else,” says Green matter-of-factly.
“He was great that night and he was also luckless in the Northern Derby last year over 2700m, so I am not worried about that at all. He has come through last week well and I think he will lead and be very hard to catch.”
Copy That has actually won over 2700m from a standing start in a very quick time and had excuses in all his other longer distance defeats, so as much as he has yet to totally prove himself as a big boy stayer, deeper investigations of his stats suggest he can snare his second Group 1 tonight.
He should be aided by what appears to be a lack of pressure in the race. Bad To The Bone poured it on last week over a mile, but it would surprise to see him try that over 2700m.
So if Copy That can get to the 800m mark having only run even, solid sectionals, not only should be be able to whizz home in 55 seconds but his greatest danger, Amazing Dream, will not have had the tempo needed to finish over top of him.
Having won both that Northern Derby and Auckland Cup, Amazing Dream is the logical danger if things do get hectic tonight and her male rivals come back to her, but she is not really a mare who can do that bullying herself and expect to win at this level.
While Copy That will be looking to make a lie of his staying stats in the Messenger, Sundees Son should continue on his way as a staying freak in the $150,000 What The Hill Rowe Cup.
He has only had two starts over 3200m and won them both, this race two years ago and the Dominion at Addington in November and he thrives on distance racing, whether driven aggressively with a sit.
It would be easy to be concerned by him drawing barrier one at the busy 3200m start but he has actually started from barrier one in standing starts four times in the last 18 months and stepped away beautifully every time.
“I am not worried about the barrier,” says driver John Dunn.
“He is never super fast away but I am confident he will step away with them and be handy enough.”
Aiding Sundees Son is the fact only six horses start off the front line, the other four on the unruly, so he shouldn’t have to stand too long after coming into line first.
If he trots squarely throughout he should win, but if he does make a mistake then Bolt For Brilliance is the obvious danger, while Majestic Man should improve lengths on last week and is likely to be one of the first away of the favourites.
PUNTING AT THE PARK
Best bet: Last Tango In Heaven (R9, No.1):
Tough three-year-old who sat parked in sharp race last start and readied for this with workout win last Saturday. Trainer-driver Tony Herlihy is confident he has the gate speed to stay handy and heading further than most he meets tonight.
Staying star: Sundees Son (R7, No.1):
Won this race in 2019 and the Dominion in only starts over the 3200m distance. Has stepped well every time he has drawn the ace in a standing start. If he behaves himself and races up to last Friday’s form it will take something special to beat him.
Place play: Steel The Show (R8, No.1):
Should trail likely leader Copy That and cover a lot less ground than many of his rivals. Might only be playing for one vacant place spot behind Copy That and Amazing Dream but value to get some of it.
Fast filly: The Honey Queen (R10, No.2):
Beat almost identical field last Friday after using gate speed to secure trail behind Dance Time. Rare for fillies to win at this level but she is turning into a really good horse.
The quinella: Five Wise Men/Leaf Stride (R6):
Five Wise Men is dominating this crop but Leaf Stride looks the leader here. If he hands up to the favourite they look a certain quinella, if he doesn’t then you are on the leader and best horse in the race, which still works.