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Victorian owners Merv and Meg Butterworth will take winning form into the New Zealand Cup after enjoying success at Ascot Park yesterday with Prince Envy.
The couple that race the favourite for the country’s biggest harness racing event will be hoping Copy That can produce something similar to the impressive 7¾-length win their Brett Gray-trained trotter dished out in race 3.
Although the Butterworths’ two horses look to have very little in common, they both appealed to the keen eye of their Australian owners.
The Butterworths purchased Prince Envy out of Canterbury as an unraced 5yr-old, who had had plenty of workouts without taking the final step to make the races.
“Merv rang me up and said ‘I have got a bit of a project horse, but don’t worry he has got ability’,” Gray said.
While Butterworth was vindicated in his opinion of the horse with his huge victory, it has been a testing road to the winner’s circle for Gray.
Prince Envy galloped in his first two starts before his polished victory yesterday.
“The horse has been doing my head in, to be honest.
“Just because he has been getting it wrong at the start.
“We know he has got the ability there, so it has been a bit frustrating.
‘‘Hopefully now, he can go on with it a little bit.”
Gray produced the quinella in race 3, Peregrine running second to Prince Envy.
After getting the winner’s manners in check, Gray will now have to work on Peregrine, who galloped away and produced an impressive recovery for second.
The Butterworths’ good eye for a horse has also led to them having the favourite for the New Zealand Cup.
They purchased Copy That towards the end of his 2yr-old season and could get the ultimate reward for their judgement in tomorrow’s 3200m feature.
The 4yr-old was previously raced by Deborah Green, the wife of Copy That’s trainer, Ray Green.
The pacer will be the veteran Pukekohe trainer’s first New Zealand Cup runner.
Gray will be among those cheering for Copy That when the tapes fly tomorrow afternoon.
“I would love for Merv and Meg to win it.”
“They have been great for Southland [harness racing] and have been very good to me.”
“They always have three in work with me and they were two of the people that helped get me started.”
Gray tasted more success of his own later on yesterday’s Ascot Park card when Memphis Tennessee won race 9.
The 5yr-old dropped in class after running into Robyns Playboy and Pembrook Playboy in his past two starts and it showed when he cleared out to win by three lengths for driver John Morrison.
- In a carbon copy of the finish to the Hawke’s Bay Guineas in September, unbeaten Aegon defeated Bourbonaire in a thrilling finish to the New Zealand 2000 Guineas at Riccarton on Saturday, NZ Racing Desk reports.
The Cambridge gallopers fought out a terrific battle in the Hastings contest before it went in favour of Aegon and it was deja vu as the pair went to the line at Riccarton locked together.
Once again, the photo-finish camera found a slight margin in favour of the Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained Aegon as the gelding emulated the deeds of his late father, Sacred Falls, who was also unbeaten when winning the 2010 edition of the blue riband event.
“It’s pretty special and really hasn’t hit home yet but I’m just rapt to race the horse with a great bunch of people,’’ Forsman, who shares in the ownership of the horse with the Zame family, said.