Day At The Track

Butcher and Mo poised

10:00 AM 15 Jan 2017 NZDT
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Zac Butcher
Zac Butcher
Duane Ranger photo

The 4-year-old gelding who finished fourth in Vincent’s stunning New Zealand record win at Alexandra Park on December 31 is going to take all sorts of beating in Sunday’s 2017 Rotorua Grass Cup.

In fact Mo Casino’s driver, Zac Butcher, rated him “a very good” winning chance, and easily the best of his four drives at the Harness Racing Waikato’s meeting at Arawa Park.

If Butcher is right, the classy South Auckland reinsman will achieve back-to-back wins in the Cup. Last year he got up the passing lane with the Barry Purdon trained Hartofdixie.

Hartofdixie paced the 2600m stand in 3:24.1. It’s a time that Butcher believes Mo Casino can at least match in the $8,000 Armstrong Family sponsored feature pace for the R66 and faster pacers – especially after his electrifying New Year’s Eve run.

The Steven Reid and Simon McMullan trained son of Butler’s Delight has drawn six of 10.

“This is ‘Mo’s’ first start back since he ran a real creditable fourth behind Vincent, and he felt superb that night finishing less than two seconds behind the very good colt. If anything that horse is the big mover in the New Zealand 3-year-old pacing ranks.

“This is a big drop in class from city company and if I’m patient in the big long straight, I’m confident he’ will be too good,” Butcher said.

Vincent set that New Zealand record in the $20,000 The Woodlands Yearling Parade Handicap for the R67 to R95 pacers.

The 3-year-old Art Major colt stopped the clock in 3:19.6 for the 2700m stand beating Lancome's all-comers record of 3:20.9 set at Cambridge Raceway in 2011.

It also beat Tas Man Bromac's 3-year-old record of 3:22 even set at Ascot Park in January 2015. Vincent is now headed for the Victoria Cup at Melton’s Tabcorp Park on February 4.

“The standing start suits Mo Casino perfectly because he steps so well. He’s a genuine racehorse and if I drive him correctly you should see that come out in him on Sunday,” the 25-year-old Clevedon horseman said.

Mo Casino is having his first look at Arawa Park and he is also having his first race on grass. The bay has placed in one of his two standing starts, and all-up he’s had 19 starts for three wins, thee seconds and a third ($29,003).

Meanwhile Butcher said the Reid and McMullan trained My Kiwi Lady was the second best of his four drives at the meeting.

“Simon told me today that they would scratch the filly from race nine (2) in favour of the seventh now that there have been a couple of scratchings.”

That means the 3-year-old daughter of Art Major will race in the $6,000 - R48 to R56 pace, over the $6,500 - R55 to R64 rated event.

“She’s been racing against some nice horses at Cambridge and Alexandra Park and gets back in grade here.

“It’s an 1800m mobile so she’s going to have to do things right and then if I’m handy I just have to be patient on the bigger track. She can get some of it with the trip.”

Here’s what Butcher said about his two other drives:

Race 3: Charlie Harper (7): “ I drove him when he was fourth (and second favourite) at Waipa last start. He did a good job last start but will still need the run to suit in this. He’s the sort of horse who needs a bit of luck but if he gets it he can win one very soon.”

Race 6: Delray (2): “He’s an honest entire (4yo) who people should follow. He’s lightly raced and not a big fella, and need to follow the speed. He has the draw and can go close if given one run at them. If not Sunday his time will come.”

The Rotorua Grass Cup is the second race in the five-strong 2016-2017 North Island Country Cups Championship.

The John and Josh Dickie trained Joanednobettor won the first race – the Te Awamutu Grass Cup on December 28.

The three others are the Parawai Cup at Thames (January 21), the Wellington Cup at the Kapiti Coast on (January 27), and the Otaki Cup also at the Kapiti Coast (January 29).

Duane Ranger

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