It has only taken 75 years but Pukekohe trainer Ray Green has a New Zealand Cup starter, and it's now the favourite.
The popular northern trainer had one of his greatest days at the office yesterday as Copy That blew his opponents away in the Ashburton Flying Stakes just an hour after American Dealer beat the southerners in a red hot Sires' Stakes heat.
The latter win was Green's 400th training success in New Zealand but it was win 401 that meant so much more as Copy That paced one of the fastest last 400m sectionals ever recorded in this part of the world.
After working to the lead with a mile of the 2400m standing start Flying Stakes to go, Copy That unleashed a 25.2 second last 400m, not greatly slower than a decent thoroughbred would gallop for the same sectional.
That means the previous NZ Cup favourite Self Assured couldn't make any ground after sitting parked while Spankem, who sat in the one-one clawed his way into third.
The fact the three favourites settled in the last three spots and still dominated suggested one of them should win the $540,000 Cup at Addington on November 10, for which now Copy That and Self Assured share $2.80 favouritism.
Copy That is so fast that, if he can reach the lead again in the Cup, it is going to take something better than what we saw yesterday to beat him, with Green not worried about the extra 800m of the Cup even though Copy That is only a four-year-old who has never raced over the ultimate trip.
"I don't think it will bother him, not the way he has pulled up after this," says Green.
"You wouldn't even know he has had a race, he just jogged it.
"So I think he will handle the 3200m and I will take him to the Cup trial (Addington next week) now just to keep him ticking over."
Green has achieved plenty in his harness racing career, training and driving horses in Wales and Ireland and has had consistent group level success with horses like Sir Lincoln and King Of Swing since taking over as the trainer for Lincoln Farms.
But he's never even had a starter in the New Zealand Cup, the race every New Zealand harness trainer wants to win.
"It is a hard race to get a horse into, let alone win. So I think I'll get quite excited over the next week or two as we get closer," says the usually laconic Green.
While the All Stars stable tend to hold a stranglehold on New Zealand Cup favouritism and punter's hearts, Copy That suggested yesterday if he can lead in the Cup he will take an enormous amount of running down, especially as this Cup may not have many horses good enough to attack, or hold him out for the lead for that matter.
So the barrier draw on Wednesday next week will be crucial, especially as Self Assured looks set to start on the unruly and could therefore be giving Copy That a huge start if the latter draws the front line.
Green is also hoping for a handy barrier draw and marker pegs run on Cup Day for American Dealer, who downed It's All About Faith and Krug in the Sires' Stakes heat.
Against the markers, whether leading or trailing, American Dealer can beat the southern stars but should a horse like Krug, who was a brave third after sitting parked yesterday, get in front of him the Sires' Stakes might be all over.
Still, Green's double yesterday has breathed life into Cup Day, which has been so South Island dominated for the last decade.
Sunday's other feature also went to another leader in Majestic Man, who used his gate speed and high cruising tempo to bolt away with the Trotter's Flying Mile in 1:54.1, just outside Marcoola's national mile record.
There were some good runs behind him but not much that would have scared Dominion favourite Sundees Son for what lies ahead in the iconic trot at Addington in two weeks.