Day At The Track

'I tell Dad I'm gana beat him' - Zac Butcher

03:22 AM 21 Jun 2012 NZST
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Zac Butcher Father-and-son David & Zac Butcher
Zac Butcher - Pictured in the Barry Purdon colours.
Duane Ranger photo
Father-and-son David & Zac Butcher - at the North Island Harness Racing Awards.
Duane Ranger photo
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Zac Butcher is more than just a very good harness racing driver. He's also a fierce competitor who has a cheeky side to him. Just ask his father David.

Butcher senior lives in Cambridge while Butcher junior works out of Barry Purdon's Clevedon barn - and whenever the duo catch up Zac will almost certainly get the first jibe in.

"Whenever I see Dad or talk to him on the phone I let him know how many drives I've won this year. Of all the people I want to beat in life it's my father. I enjoy giving him a a bit of cheek because he taught me everything I know. He has also sacrificed a lot of drives for me this season - but I don't like losing anything, especially to him," the gifted 21-year-old reinsman said.

Butcher last Thursday (June 14) became just the third junior driver after Mark Jones and Dexter Dunn to notch up 100 winners in a season.

He got his century behind the Peter Scaife trained El Magic in the sixth event at Forbury Park. Win 101 came four races later when he won behind another Scaife runner, Mister Dean.

David Butcher has saluted the judge 98 times in 2011-2012 - 44 fewer than what he achieved last season. He had the following words for his son:

"The season's not over yet. You tell your readers that when Zac was born he was 10 pound of bulls**t," David joked.

On a serious note he said he hated losing to Zac or any of his family - at anything.

"I've never given them an inch. The moment you start letting them beat you it will become a habit. I told Zac he would beat me the day he is good enough," David said.

Although he'd never ever admit defeat Butcher senior admitted his son had a better run in to the end of the season.

"I just don't have any fire power at the moment and I think he will have a better quality of drives to call on. I was leading for quite a bit of the season and then he went whoosh.

"I'm proud of him. I've always told him to keep his feet on the ground, and he seems to be doing that okay at the moment. Above all he's driving really well," Butcher said.

Zac has won his 101 races from 621 drives this season compared to his father's 98 wins from 657 drives. They have won $829,679 and $818,303 in stakes respectively.

Junior might be second on the national premiership - 64 wins behind Dexter Dunn, but he has some way to catch up on his father, career-wise.

David has driven 1,758 winners and won $19.2 million in purses since 1986, while Zac has won 223 races and $1.8m in five seasons.

Zac has one season left in the Junior ranks. His best season prior to 2011-2012 was 59 wins last year.

"I just want to thank Barry (Burdon) and all the other loyal trainers and owners like Peter Scaife and Ian Small who put me on their horses this season.

"It's been an amazing ride. Winning the Group One Oaks with Cheer The Lady was a highlight. I really want to thank Barry for convincing the owners to let a junior driver get behind their hosres.

"Barry has shown a lot of faith in me and I love working for him. Our stable has won four Group One races this year. I'm really enjoying working for a top stable. You never stop learning from a great like Barry," Zac said.

He said he especially liked winning behind his father and grandfather John's horses.

"I always get a huge thrill winning for my family. I have so much respect for Pop (John). He taught Dad and Phil everything they know. He also keeps my feet firmly grounded and insists I be humble.

"I'm very lucky to have grown up a Butcher. I have had very sound advice from day one. Even Uncle Phil sits me down and talks me through some of my not so good drives when Dad isn't there.

"But you can't go past Dad. He's a legend to me and I am now driving as well as I am because of him. I love beating him and I won't stop telling him that until the season ends," Butcher laughed.

For the record Zac already has the New Zealand Junior Driver's title parcelled up having 23 wins more than Oamaru's Matthew Williamson.

By Duane RANGER (editor)

Zac Butcher notching up his 100th win of the season behind the Peter Scaife trained El Magic in the sixth event at Forbury Park last Thursday (June 14):

Zac Butcher winning the Group One $100,000 New Zealand Oaks with Cheer The Lady at Addington on May 18, 2012:

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