Day At The Track

Butt brothers breaking new ground, again

03:48 AM 14 Jun 2013 NZST
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Butt brothers
Butt brothers - Tim & Anthony

Scandinavian trotters are set to follow Europe's gallopers in a high-end Australasian invasion.

And while the first assault may be small, leading horseman Anthony Butt believes it could be just the tip of the iceberg.

Anthony Butt and his brother Tim are importing three Scandinavian trotters this winter to be syndicated as a package deal. The brothers have wanted to try that move since being blown away by the depth of Europe’s best trotters when campaigning Lyell Creek in Sweden in 2001. And now, inspired by many of Australia’s leading thoroughbred trainers importing European stayers, the Butts say the time is right.

“Anybody who has been up there is stunned by how good their best trotters are,” said Anthony Butt. “But they are very hard to buy so getting the good ones has been the issue.“But we have finally got a serious one we can buy plus a couple of real up and comers so we are bringing them down as a package deal.

“You see how guys like Chris Waller are going with the European gallopers and you realise they can acclimatize and then get back to their best form. “So if you can make the numbers work it is worth trying.”

The best French and Swedish trotters regularly trot times more in line with our best pacers, especially over the staying trips. As an example, the best-performed of the trio the Butts are importing is Peak, who won the Denmark Derby as a four-year-old in a 2:0 mile rate for 3000m, a time which only Stig or I Can Doosit would approach among our current open class trotters.

“Peak is a really good horse and our people are telling us he could do really big thing down here,” said Anthony. “And the time is right. The stakes for trotters here are very strong while in Australia there are new races like the Great Southern Star (A$400,000) and the Glenferrie Farm Challenge (A$2million).”

Those new races mean a good open class trotter can race for $3million in Australasia per season and they tend to be among the hardiest of elite-level racehorses, often racing until they are 10-year-olds. The trio are heading to France before entering quarantine in mid-August with a view to racing here by Christmas, just in time for the Alexandra Park features.

“We are putting them together as a package deal of eight shares and five have already sold,” said Butt. If the gamble pays off it could become more regular, with high class Northern Hemisphere trotters even coming down under to race and then stay on, either being sold as racehorses or breeding propositions.

The trio are not the only big names on the Butt’s shopping list as the proactive stable is also in the throes of purchasing Jewels runner-up Pass Them By. Anthony Butt trialled him at Pukekohe last week and liked what he felt, comparing him to Hunter Cup winner Mah Sish. Pass Them By was the most improved northern pacer of the autumn and finished second to superstar Christen Me in his Jewels division.

*Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand

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