When it comes to the two features at Ashburton on Saturday, no one has a stronger hand to play than champion reinsman Anthony Butt, who is likely to drive the favourite in both of the $25,000 Group Three co-features.
The first of those likely favourites is extremely talented two-year-old, The Jazzman, who will make his debut in the prestigious Sapling Stakes.
“He is a very nice two-year-old, who we have a big opinion of,” said Anthony butt. “He has drawn out wide enough (7), and there are some nice ones in there, but we think we are as good as anything,” he added.
The Jazzman, who was an expensive purchase out of the barn of Rangiora trainer Ken Odgers, has trialled three times since joining the stable of Tim Butt for two impressive wins and a fifth where he was never pulled out of a trailing position.
“Ken (Odgers) has kept a share him, which is usually a good sign,” enthused Butt.
In The Jazzman’s last trial, which was at the same venue that he will race at on Saturday, he downed talented two-year-old Say My Name, who has since franked that form by winning his debut at Addington on the 31st of January.
Say Me Name will once again to battle with The Jazzman on Saturday.
“He is a very nice horse who has a bit of the X-Factor,” said Say My Name’s trainer Robert Dunn. “He ran a bit of time first up (1-58.3 mile rate) so on the run he would have to be very competitive again.”
Others who will be looking to lower the colours of The Jazzman are Eagles Nest, Stagger Lee, Follow The Stars, Pulp Fiction, Alta Ronaldo, and Mighty Flying Major, who will shake, rattle, and hum from his ace alley for the ‘King’ Ken Barron.
He, like The Jazzman, has been very impressive at the trials and adds further to what looks like a very talented line-up, however come Saturday my money will be on The Jazzman.
The Hambletonian Classic, which is the first Group Race of the season for the three-year-old trotters, is the other feature on the 10-race card at Ashburton, and it too looks an even, yet talented field.
However, from the three draw, the unbeaten Thebestlove does look the one they all have to beat.
“He is a very exciting trotter, who couldn’t have been any more impressive in his first two starts,” said Anthony Butt. “He set a New Zealand record for a three-year-old trotter over 2000 metres when winning at Rangiora on January 28, so the step up in class shouldn’t worry him,” he added.
On that occasion, he downed Lothario, who will once again be a race-rival on Saturday.
“He got out of the gate really good last start, so if he could jump to the front again, you would think he would take a fair bit of betting,” said Butt. “He has speed, he can stay, and the manners are there also, so he really is the all-round package,” he explained.
Thebestlove is a big imposing son of Love You out of talented mare Kathy Galleon, who was the winner of three of her six lifetime starts.
“I think Kathy Galleon was quite a speedy mare, whereas the Love You’s are very tough, so hopefully this fella will have the best of both worlds,” analyzed Butt.
The hardest for Thebestlove to beat could be One Over Da Moon, who trotted a mile in 1-57.9 when winning the Harness Jewels at Ashburton as a two-year-old.
If he could replicate that run, he may very well win, however he would want to behave better than he did when galloping twice in his Motukarara resumption. Then again, he is trained by the master Paul Nairn.
Others that add to the puzzle are Trouble Rieu and Majestic Time, who were both impressive last start winners.
By Mitchell Robertson