By their normally high standards, brothers Tim and Anthony Butt have been relatively quiet of late.
With 29 wins on the board, Premier Stables is on track to record another solid season of racing, but will be relying on some good performances late in the season to push towards to a tidy season tally.
That required surge should begin tomorrow with an imposing four-team line up at Nelson – all of whom look set to feature in their respective assignments.
And there is an added extra incentive to do well too.
The Butts’ lost a valued part of their family this morning (Thursday) when Berry Butt passed away.
The wife of the late Wes Butt, who was the matriarch of what has become one of harness racing’s most successful names, Berry was aged 92.
“She had a wonderful innings,’’ Anthony Butt said.
With sentiment as his main drive for success, Butt seemed eager to honour his grandmother in an appropriate fashion today when he steps onto the Richmond Park track at Nelson.
“We have set this team for the meeting and they trialled really well last week,’’ he said.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if any of them won to be honest – I think they are all capable.’’
Two of the four runners – Gregory R and Motu Prince Of Peru – are established up and coming stars while the others are relative unknowns aside from their recent performances at trials and workouts.
Maiden trotter Pristine is one Butt has plenty of time and a win in the opening race wouldn’t come as a surprise.
“If she was to trot the whole way I would like to think she would probably win it.
“But you can’t go guaranteeing things like that with a maiden trotter when they are on debut.
“She’s going to be alright though.’’
The stables second debutant, Gotta Go Artelect, has plenty of breeding on his side and looks to have inherited a good slice of the family ability.
Out of former brilliant pacer, Elect To Live, the Art Major three-year-old has impressed his driver.
“He’s just got better and better every time we have taken him away from home.
“In time he will become a very nice horse.’’
Butt rated Gregory R as the best of the team’s chances today and held no reservations about his 30 metre handicap.
The Sundon gelding has picked up two wins at Premier meetings this season and appears to be a lot more tractable than normal.
“I’ve been really impressed with him, he’s grown up a lot this time in and is trotting really well.
“I would expect him to be really hard to beat, even off the 30 metres, because he is beginning so quickly.
“And Motu Prince Of Peru trialled really well last week, he had bone chips removed last year and we have stopped mollycoddling him at home which seems to have woken him up a bit.
“He’s going really well.’’
The stable will also be represented in the North Island when Princess Sophia and Astral Traveller race at Alexandra Park.
Butt said both were far from disgraced in their Jewels assignments last week and expected Princess Sophia to turn in a tidy performance this week.
By Matt Markham (Harness Racing New Zealand)