Day At The Track

Tim's French mission for boom trotter

12:45 PM 10 Jan 2020 NZDT
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Tim Butt with Ideal Star (left) and Let It Ride,Harness racing
Tim Butt with Ideal Star (left) and Let It Ride, who picked up a Menangle race-to-race double on Monday
Ashlea Brennan photo

After nearly 30 years at the echelon of harness racing Down Under, you'd be forgiven for thinking Menangle trainer Tim Butt's passion might be a little dulled.

But nothing could be further from the truth -he's bubbling with anticipation as he finalises plans for a trip to France later this month on a mission to find Australasia's next boom trotter.

Butt already has a cornerstone investor on-board with his plan to source an elite French stallion to race and then stand at stud in Australasia, but he's excited that smaller shares still available could possibly bring serious new investors into the sport he loves.

"I've never really thought about doing anything other than harness racing. My parents did it, and my grandparents on both sides of the family were in harness racing, so I've just always loved going to the races and wanted to be good at it," Butt said.

"I love the sport and the competitiveness, but for me, it's the challenge of finding that next top-liner. Having a good horse and winning the big races drives me and keeps me excited for what's ahead," he said.

"I'm heading to France to look at the best trotting stallions in the world and that's exciting for me, but also an opportunity for investors who want to be part of it."

Butt is unrivalled in the Southern Hemisphere for his Group One success - he's won more than 90 Group Ones, including the Miracle Mile, InterDominion Pacers and Trotters final (4), NZ cup (2), Auckland Cup (2), Hunter Cup (2), Dominion Handicap (8) and the list goes on.

"We don't have a big team - we aim for quality and hold our numbers at about 24 so we can aim primarily at those big races," Butt said.

"That's what our goal is in France. To identify the best modern bred trotting stallion we can afford, race him down here in those good races, with the goal of setting him up for a stud career. So for the people who come on board it's a long-term investment and we're hoping a profitable one."

The idea for sourcing Northern Hemisphere trotting blood began when the Butts campaigned with their champion trotter Lyell Creek during their early 2000s.

"Lyell Creek was no doubt the best horse I've been associated with - he was brilliant," Butt said.

"But this idea really stemmed from when we took him to the Elitloppet in Sweden and it was clear to me just how far ahead of us their trotters were," he said.

"We've previously brought three European horses to race down here, in Peak (Denmark), Kvintet Avenger (Finland) and Daryl Boko (Finland) and they had two group one wins and a placing between them. We also brought out Mr Feelgood from America, who was probably the most successful pacer to come out from the States, so I know the qualities I'm looking for," he said.

"I've done a lot of homework and have a good relationship with (premiere French horseman and trainer, and owner of Love You) Jean-Pierre Dubois' son Jean Dubois, who is now a gallops trainer out here, at Mittagong.

"I've spent a fair bit of time with him talking about my ideas and going through catalogues and we've identified some good options - it's just a case of being able to afford the one you want, taking into account the exchange rates."

The Butt team also has a profile in Europe through their hosting of a number of young Swedish horsemen and women to work in Australia.

Butt is joining a La Trot (French trotting authority) sponsored tour of about 25 potential buyers and investors being organised by Harness Racing Australia.

The week-long tour leaves on January 23 and will be based in the horse-racing region of Normandy.

The key focus for Butt will be horse auctions during the initial days of the tour, including broodmare, ready to run, yearling and stallion shares.

But the tour will also take in key racing and breeding establishments in Normandy - studs including Le Haras du Pin, the Haras de Sassy training centre, Ecurie Guarato training centre (home of Bald Eagle) and the property of Jean Pierre Debois to view renowned stallion Love You.

The tour will also visit the historic Grosbois training centre, on the outskirts of Paris - a harness racing community that includes a castle, trotting museum and 1500 horses in training, utilising numerous straight, forest and qualifying tracks, a restaurant, cinema and veterinary clinic.

HRA delegates are also presenting at the Stallions Exhibition, an industry trade fair that is a fixture on the French racing calendar and will be showcasing the innovative Australian BestSeat 360 concept - immersive technology that provides interactive driver's-eye view of the racing action.


Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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