YEAR: 2004

Connections of Copper Beach with the Oaks trophy

When it comes to winning Group races with young horses in this era, few do as well and none do better than Geoff Small. He has a piercing accuracy to zero in on such events, and that's what he did with Copper Beach in the $100,000 Wayne Francis Memorial NZ Oaks.

Not among the hot fancies, not even among the warm ones, yet Copper Beach raced under her odds to win the classic by nearly two lengths from That's Life Lavra who came from the back with Imagine That. Neither got the sweet trip David Butcher gave Copper Beach.

He dreamed of a run behind Petousa just off the pace an got it. Princess Alberta made it a race for the stayers, and those around her gradually dropped off, with the exception of Copper Beach. She was full of chirp when she came off Petousa's back on the corner, and quickly turned it into a clear advantage.

"She was cruising it when I came into the corner," said Butcher. "She's always been a nice filly, and she's got a bit of bottom to her like some of the other Beach Towels in Geoff's team. And it's the first decent run she's had for a while."

Copper Beach is raced by the Les Girls No.2 Syndicate, which includes Edith Margison, from Manurewa, Annette Hudson (Pukekohe), Sharn Riley (Papakura), Joyce Walters (Waiuku), Geoff's wife Aria, and Helen Hobson from Christchurch. They bred Elsu as well as Copper Beach, who is from a Payson's Brother half-sister to the dam of Elsu. The mare Les Payzen Star has also left a 2-year-old filly by Holmes Hanover and a yearling colt by Dream Away, and was served this season by Falcon Seelster.

Credit: Mike Grainger writing in NZHR Weekly

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