Day At The Track

Butt stops here for crack at Victorian Cups

07:55 PM 04 Dec 2012 NZDT
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Anthony Butt
Anthony Butt
Duane Ranger Photo

The 2012 Decron Cranbourne Pacing Cup is set to be the major lead in to the Victoria Cup carnival in a stellar December for harness racing fans. It's not just a lead up race though; the significant history of the races suggests that more often than not the best pacers are required to take the prize.

This year is sure to be no different with a swag of top-liners ready to do battle in the $100,000 Group 1 event over 2555-metres. The likes of Bitobliss, Mustang Mach, Caribbean Blaster and Abettorpunt will all be lining up as a part of an Australian-trained contingent that will be aiming to ward off a challenge from across the ditch.

New Zealand will be attacking the race in the form of Mah Sish.

The six-year-old gelding from the Tim Butt yard may only be 27 starts into his career but the master horseman is certain his ability belies his experience.

His run recently in the New Zealand Cup was enough to prove he is a horse that is likely to come into his own as his continues to mature. His trainer believes there is plenty more improvement to come.

"He's a little bit of an up and comer, he was set for the New Zealand Cup really and that made him a bit dour when he backed up in the Free-For-All over the short course," Butt said.

"He hasn't had a lot of starts for an older horse but I'm sure a bit of racing on the Grand Circuit will furnish him into a really nice horse.

"He wasn't broken in until he was three-years-old so he was just living on New Zealand grass for most of his life but he went from a New Zealand maiden to open class in pretty much one season so he's done a really good job this time in to put his foot on the till."

Time is still on his side. The southern-island standardbred will be better for his recent run of tough racing and can stake his claim on the grand circuit with a win in the Decron Cranbourne Pacing Cup a major stepping stone to that.

The promise of an historic clash sees Mah Sish the somewhat forgotten horse of the field however his key asset remains - versatility. After working through the mid-stages of the New Zealand Cup he still had a kick in the locker.

Butt also explained that he would be more than happy to take the sit if there was early pace or barriers dictated he be driven that way.

It won't be the end of the world if Mah Sish is beaten on Saturday night, not for his trainer at least. He is predicting a big campaign for the rising star with most of the upcoming big races on the radar.

Butt believes that once he has settled in to Australian racing he will be a force.

"I'm sure he'll improve for the run at Cranbourne so we're really looking forward to getting on to the Victoria Cup and the Hunter Cup," he said.

"He's definitely there to win but as we saw last year our horses can sometimes just need one run here, not so much for fitness but just to settle in and realise what they are here for."

Mah Sish won't be the only runner on the night for the Premier Stables team. The Group 2 Aldebaran Park $50,000 Bill Collins Mile is the target for Vulcan - touted as a superstar in the making less than a season ago - he seemed to lose his way in his most recent New Zealand preparation.

"He hadn't been dead right in New Zealand but he's coming back to himself over here. He loves Australia; he loves the tracks and the warm weather so I think he's in for a good carnival," Butt said.

If he could return to his best he would no doubt be one of the major contenders across the major trotting races in the next month. A win in the Aldebaran Park Bill Collins Mile would take Vulcan's prizemoney to over $380,000.

by Blake Redden

Courtesy of Harness Racing Victoria

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