As a backpacker, Ray Green made his first trip to Australia five decades ago to pick fruit.
Now the veteran trainer finds himself Down Under again chasing greater riches with New Zealand’s top pacer Copy That.
The 75-year-old has trained in Wales, Italy and North America but now calls Lincoln Farms’ 25-hectare property near Pukekohe home where he trains the harness sensation.
Lining up in the $250,000 Group 1 The Rising Sun at Albion Park on Saturday night, Copy That is potentially the best horse Green has had.
The Kiwi showed he was the real deal last week in his Albion Park debut when he pulled off a victory from near last.
Following the stunning win, Green said it hadn’t all been smooth sailing for Copy That, who has matured from a talented problem child to a top-class pacer.
“He was a real handful,” he said.
“He could gallop in a heartbeat and for no reason at all. It took a long time to get him out of that.
Having been in the industry for decades, Green is regarded as a cool head and that is exactly what was needed after Copy That’s shock flop in the Harness Jewels at Cambridge just days before he was booked on a flight to Brisbane.
After winning five of his last six starts going into the race, Copy That could only muster ninth.
“The run was a bit of a shock. I have no idea why he didn’t perform that day, it’s a mystery,” Green said. “I wasn’t going to dwell on it, you go crazy if you do. I had to just turn the page and move on.”
Copy That came from near last to win at Albion Park last week.Source:Supplied
Green only returned to New Zealand after working under the legendary Billy Haughton in America.
He said he learnt a lot but did not enjoy the “factory-type” operation he was running.
“I’ve been lucky to do a lot of travel and stints around the world,” he said.
“I had a year in North Wales, the last year of the Prestatin track in 1972 before it closed.
“Then I had a year in Italy, up north at Torino, in the mid-1970s, and a few stints in Florida. My last stint in the US was three years at Maryland from 1980-83.”
With Copy That rated a $8.50 chance with TAB for The Rising Sun, Green has an eye towards the Group 1 Blacks A Fake on July 24.
Ironically, he will have to take down a horse he purchased and trained if he is to get his hands on the Blacks A Fake riches.
Green was the original trainer of King Of Swing, regarded as Australia’s best pacer.
“It will be a bit strange racing him after buying him as a yearling and developing him,” he said.
“He’s the benchmark horse in Australia right now.
“I liked him from day one. He had some bone chips removed from his ankles as an early two-year-old, but came good at the end of the season to win the Breeders Crown (in Victoria).
“We sold him to (Western Australia) for big money after that. You hate losing horses like that, I loved him, but money talks and we’re running a business. Buying yearlings, developing them and selling them is the routine.”
Copy That now comfortably fills the void.
“It was great to have him come along straight after King Of Swing was sold and left, but he took a lot of work to get sorted,” Green said.
“I’d say Copy That had a bit more raw speed, but it’s been great to see King Of Swing keep developing.”
Originally published asGreen after rich pickings with Copy That
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