Day At The Track

Hector on track for another tilt

09:00 AM 15 Sep 2020 NZST
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Comeback superstar Hectorjayjay with Tara and Jack Butler,Harness racing
Comeback superstar Hectorjayjay with Tara and Jack Butler

The short-lived retiree and former superstar pacer Hectorjayjay is again poised to return to the racetrack.

The multiple Group One winner and Inter Dominion runner-up has been under the care of astute harness racing horseman Jack Butler, of Logan Village, 50kms south-west of Brisbane, since last year.

Hectorjayjay (Dream Away-Sheer Finesse (Torado Hanover) had three runs in May-June for Butler after an absence of almost two years from the track and posted a third, then a victory before a close-up fifth, all at Albion Park.

Dogged by suspensory ligament setbacks for the majority of his career, the winner of 44 races and over $1.1 million, is two to three weeks away from the trials.

"Thankfully his suspensory is perfect," Butler said.

"After his last run in Brisbane in early June, he pulled up with a minor setback. It was nothing too serious-I'd liken it to us twisting an ankle," he said.

"But soon afterwards he got a bit of a virus to go with it. We just then decided we weren't going to take any chances and pulled the pin.

"Everything is back fine again and he's ready for a return."

It's been well documented that the owners had initially sent "Hector" to Queensland to be retired. The horse found his way to Butlers place and the trainer couldn't resist the opportunity to put the nine-year-old back into work.

After months of swimming and treadmill work, Butler got his vet to scan the suspensory ligaments and the green light was given for the preparation to continue to the next level.

"He's without doubt the best horse that has ever been in my stables-he just loves the work and wants to run. He's just a natural," Butler said.

The popular trainer-driver moved north in early 2015 with his wife Tara and children Chloe and Marty to get away from the notorious Bathurst winters.

Butler hasn't looked back and has been a frequent visitor to the winner's stall since moving north. In each full season, he's reached at least 100 wins, with his standout season was 2016/17 with 119 winners.

He recently chalked up his 1000th career win as a trainer (well over half of those registered since he moved to Queensland) and fittingly, it was his daughter Chloe who was the successful driver on Handsome Hero.

"It was awesome to have Chloe land the special winner for me-bringing up that milestone is something we'll never forget," Butler said.


Chloe Butler and Hectorjayjay

"I really didn't know that I was that close to my 1000th. It seems a good while ago that Dan Costello (course photographer) told me I was working towards it.

"And I remember having a joke with Dan that the way I was going, it could take a fair bit of time-I was having quite a lean spell for a few months there, but we finally made it!"

Butler has been in downsizing mode in recent weeks.

"In the past six or seven weeks, our stable numbers have probably halved. We're down to about 22 now," he said.

"The national ratings system wasn't working out all that good for some of our team, so some have gone home or moved on," he said.

But racing is a swings and roundabouts game, and for now, Butler is thrilled just to have Hectorjayjay back for another go.

 

Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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