Australasia’s Anthony Butt to drive in Ireland

03:04 AM 19 Jul 2014 NZST
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Anthony Butt, harness racing 2014 Vincent Delaney Memorial Poster.jpg
Anthony Butt with his daughter, Kimberly

The Ladbroke’s Vincent Delaney Memorial Series for two-year-old pacers has truly become an international affair as Australasia’s leading harness racing driver, Anthony Butt, has announced he is heading to Dublin, Ireland’s Portmarnock Trotting Track to compete in the series.

“I had read the stories on Harnesslink about Derek and James Delaney developing the series to honor their lost brother,” Anthony Butt said, “and then Irish Joe Hanney, who is a friend of mine in the USA, got in contact with me asking if I was interested in going up for the race weekend. When I looked at the dates and it fitted in well with my schedule, I jumped at the opportunity.”

“How great is it that one of the leading drivers from Australasia, Anthony Butt, is coming here to Ireland to drive,” said Derek Delaney. “Now we have two world class drivers from the other sides of the globe, Wally Hennessey and Anthony, coming to Portmarnock for my brother’s memorial series. This is going to be one super weekend of racing. Plus we also have the world renowned announcer, Roger Huston coming over from the USA to call the races both days.”

Anthony Butt hails from three full generations of harness racing in his family. His grandfathers, Wes Butt and Derek Jones, belong to the short-list of New Zealand’s outstanding trainer/drivers. Little Anthony began working in the stables at age 9.

Starting out as a driver and entering the sport as a 17-year-old in 1983, Anthony began carving out a distinguished career with a victory in just his third start in a race. His first season saw him win the New Zealand Junior Title.

From there it has been a career dreams are made from by his Inter Dominion Trotting Grand Final victory with the great Lyell Creek (2000) and Take A Moment (2001 and 2003). He also scored a Pacing Grand Final victory in 2009 (Mr. Feelgood USA). His success in the industry has also been a family affair as his brother Tim does the training for the stable and has been instrumental in Anthony’s and the stables success.

Anthony has consistently been in the top 10 of New Zealand reinsmen since the 1990’s and his career was recognized by his peers and fans as he was inducted into the New Zealand Trotting Hall of Fame. Between driving in New Zealand, Australia and the United States, Anthony has more than 2,176 career wins and $19.8 million in purses won with the horses he has driven.

Has Anthony ever been Ireland or the United Kingdom?

“I have only been to England on holiday, Anthony said. “I have visited Newmarket/Ascot a couple of times to have a look at the Thoroughbreds. A great friend of our family is Sam Ballentyne, who was a leading trainer/driver in Scotland before he emigrated to NZ in the 1970's. I have driven many winners for Sam over the years and always enjoyed his stories of trotting in the UK back then. Also quite a few New Zealanders were involved with harness racing in Wales back in the 1960/70's.

“We have had several people work for us over the years from the UK,” Anthony added, “including Richard Haythornthwaite, who is from a famous harness racing family in the UK.

Anthony talked about how great a trip this will be.

“This is a great opportunity to visit and drive in a new country,” Anthony explained, “As well as to help Derek and his family promote the race meeting worldwide. It’s fantastic to see harness racing taking off in a country like Ireland and any chance we get we should do whatever we can to support occasions like this.

“I can’t wait to experience harness racing in Ireland and meeting the people involved. They appear to have a real passion for the sport and hopefully a meeting like this can really give the sport a boast there. It looks to be a unique kind of meeting.” Anthony said.

The Ladbroke’s Vincent Delaney Memorial Series has 54 two-year-old colt and filly pacers nominated. The series has $2,000 elimination heats Saturday, August 9 and the $35,000 final will be raced Sunday, August 10. Fillies in the final will draw for the inside posts on Portmarnock’s half mile oval.

There is already a reported golf match schedule Monday morning after the race meet between Derek Delaney, Wally Hennessey and Anthony Butt.

“I have no idea how good Derek is so by the sounds of it definitely Wally, I am only a hacker and I might be better driving the cart with the drinks in it,” laughed Anthony. 'There is also a reporter for a Dublin newspaper and the Standardbred Ireland Facebook page, Eric Haughan, who will be playing with us so I am sure everyone will be able to read about the golfing went."

The Ladbroke’s Vincent Delaney Memorial Series has developed into an exciting weekend of racing in Ireland and promises to have plenty of action and drama for those who are fortunate enough to attend the meet live.

By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com

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