Day At The Track

David Butcher creates NZ driving history

12:33 PM 18 May 2009 NZST
Comment (...) Tweet Share Email Print
David Butcher is used to this. Why?
David Butcher is used to this. Why? - He's a legenadry reinsman with a stack of Grp 1 victories.
Duane Ranger photo

David Butcher is one of New Zealand's best big-race drivers. He's eighth on New Zealand's all-time driving list with 1470 wins. He drove Elsu to win the 2005 Interdominion Grand Final. He won two Auckland Cups with the same horse in 2003 and 2004, and last November he won his first New Zealand Cup behind Changeover.

But when Lauraella won last Friday night's $150,000 Group One New Zealand Oaks at Addington Raceway Butcher created New Zealand driving history by becoming the first reinsman in this part of the world to surpass $2m in stakes in one season - a brilliant achievement considering there is still two-and-a-half months left in 2008-2009, including the rich Harness Jewels Finals at Ashburton Raceway on May 30.

As at today (Monday) Butcher had won 77 of his 486 starts and placed on 109 occasions for $2,081,583 in stakes. His UDR strike rate stands at a very healthy .2606. He is currently third equal with Peter Ferguson on the national driving premiership - behind Dexter Dunn (155) and Mark Jones (83).

The previous season high was recorded in 2007-2008 when Tony Herlihy won $1,627,921. Not one to talk it up, Butcher said he was proud to have achieved a New Zealand driving first.

"It helps when you have good horses and a top trainer like Geoff Small to drive for. This is a bit of an honour but it's what I do for a living and I really enjoy driving. Every win is a buzz but I wouldn't have had one win if it wasn't for the owners and trainers. They make records like this happen and I'm grateful to them all for that," Butcher said. "Yes I'm happy with what I have achieved so far this season," he added.

Butcher has driven at all the major tracks in New Zealand and Australia this season with Changeover and Lauraella providing the Cambridge trainer-driver with most of his wins.

"Winning the New Zealand Cup with Changeover in November was the season, if not career highlight. That was special. Every driver wants to win a New Zealand Cup," Butcher said.

Changeover's other big wins this season included $50,000 Bendigo Cup; $65,000 Interdominion heat and the $100,000 Len Smith Mile. All up the In The Pocket 5-year-old entire has won $713,395 this season - $192,477 more than what stablemate Lauraella has so far earned in 2008-2009.

The red hot favourite for the $200,000 Group One 3yo Fillies Diamond on Harness Jewels Day has won nine of her 11 starts this season and placed in one other race for $500,918. Lauraella's Group One wins this season include the $170,000 New Zealand Yearling Sales Final; the $200,000 Great Northern Oaks; the $150,000 Nevele R Fillies Series Final; and last Friday's $150,000 New Zealand Oaks.

"Changeover and Lauraella have won the most money but All Tiger went pretty good as well. He won a $50,000 race and beat Auckland Reactor. Then there was Awesome Armbro's Interdominion Consolation win. I've been lucky to have driven some quality racehorses in some big races this season," Butcher said.

That trend will continue on Harness Jewels Day when Butcher has three drives behind Lauraella, All Tiger and Tintin In America.

"Lauraella is obviously my best chance. She's the top of her age group and a pleasure to drive. She just keeps giving but it's way too soon to start comparing her to Changeover and Elsu.

"They are males and she hasn't raced away from her own age group or sex yet. She will have to make the step up one day, and only then can you start comparing, but for now she still has a long way to go," Butcher said.

Lauraella, a brown Christian Cullen filly, will have the chance to add to her career record of 10 wins and $622,185 after the Harness Jewels Final as well. She will be crossing the Tasman for the Breeders Crown Championship at Melton (Victoria) on August 23.

Duane RANGER (editor)

Comment (...) Tweet Share Email Print

Read More News About...

Stallion Name

Next article: