Day At The Track

Butt's a maybe

07:00 PM 29 May 2017 NZST
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David Butt and Wilma’s Mate,Harness racing
Wilma’s Mate

A mystery illness has left David Butt’s Jewels dream hanging by a thread after he initially feared he had a stroke last week.

The Canterbury horseman will have to pass a doctor’s examination to be allowed to drive the well-fancied Wilma’s Mate at Saturday’s $1.2million meeting at Ashburton.

Butt was hospitalized last Thursday after suffering from severe dizziness when he woke up.

“I couldn’t get my balance and felt like I was going to fall over when I tried to walk,” said the Inter Dominion-winning reinsman.

“Too be honest, I was scared I had had a stroke because I had never felt anything like that before.

“For the first few days I was dizzy and couldn’t stand light or noise but the doctors tell me I have been suffering from vertigo.

“They said it is relatively common and now I have had it I keep hearing from other people they have had it to. But it was a real shock.”

Butt says many of the symptoms have now cleared, with the return of his balance the next and most important step.

“It is getting better but I am still not driving work at home.

“The stipes (stewards) know and they have told me I have to get a clearance from the doctor on Friday to be able to drive on Saturday.

“The strange part is the doctors can’t tell me exactly what has gone wrong.

“The two most likely reasons are a head knock or a virus of some type and I haven’t had any head knocks so the virus sounds the most likely reason.

“If that has what caused it the doctors said I could have had it for a while lying dormant.” 

Butt has two scheduled Jewels drives with Wilma’s Mate the second favourite for the $100,000 four-year-old trot after drawing the ace.

“I’d love to drive her because I really think she can win but obviously I won’t be driving her if I’m now right.

“So the doctors will tell me on Friday but it has improved quite a lot the last few days.”

For all his success Butt has driven just one Jewels winner, One Over Da Moon, at Ashburton in 2013 for Wilma’s Mate’s trainers Paul Nairn.

Should he not be able to take the reins on Saturday his son Bob would seem the most likely replacement as he won races on Wilma’s Mate last season.

Wilma’s Mate is the $4 second favourite for her division on Saturday, with Southland  mare Dark Horse still at $2.50 with the New Zealand TAB, though she opened $4.50 with Australian bookmakers post-draw last Friday.

The big shortener in the that market has been Marcoola, with last season’s champion three-year-old trotter into $4.20 after looking more aggressive at the Ashburton workouts on Saturday.

Michael Guerin

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