Butt warns punters that southerner may finally be on song for Auckland Trotting Cup.
Driver Anthony Butt has vowed to turn Friday night's Auckland Trotting Cup into a war.
He says Mah Sish, the most disappointing pacer of the New Zealand season, can finally pay back punters who have stuck with him.
This time last season Mah Sish was one of the most feared pacers in Australasia, having won the Ballarat and Hunter Cups as well as finishing second to I'm Themightyquinn in the Inter Dominion final.
However, those efforts seemed to drain the son of Mach Three and by autumn he was a spent force, a lack of mojo that carried over into this season.
After opening one of the favourites for the New Zealand Cup he couldn't run a place in the lead-up races and has shown only flashes of his old fight for much of his Australian summer campaign.
Recently, Butt has noticed two changes in Mah Sish - he has developed much higher gate speed and he is racing more like a one-paced stayer.
"And that is why I now have to drive him a bit like a Flashing Red type," says Butt, referring to his dual New Zealand Cup and Auckland Cup winning hero.
Mah Sish was a brave third in a supersonic A$100,000 ($107,000) race at Menangle on Sunday after leading and blazing dazzling sectionals.
Butt says that is exactly what he intends doing on Friday night.
"He can't outsprint Adore Me and Terror To Love; we all know that," says Butt. "But he has developed into a really good stayer and having gate speed now means I can launch him at the start.
"And I will just keep going until I get the lead, I have to. Then I will run every quarter [400m] as quick as I can for that distance.
"I want them all out on their feet at the 600m and if Adore Me or Terror To Love run past me so be it.
"I am not saying he will win but I am quietly confident he will go close. Alexandra Park is a hard track to run good horses down on."
Butt's declaration and the gate speed of New Zealand Cup runner-up Fly Like An Eagle, who has drawn directly inside him at barrier four, suggests there will be genuine speed early in Friday's Cup and while Adore Me has drawn well at barrier two it looks unlikely she will now simply run to the front and dominate. TAB bookies think so as the champion mare has surprisingly only opened second favourite at $3.60, with Terror To Love the $2.80 top pick.
The horse they are keeping safe is Saveapatrol, who is a $5.50 chance even though he looks like being three deep on the markers at best.
Pembrook Benny rounds out the favourites at $6.50 while those willing to back Butt's judgement can get $21 about Mah Sish turning his New Zealand run of outs around.
Locharburn has opened up prohibitively short in the $250,000 Woodlands Derby at just $1.55 over Tiger Tara at $3 and Sky Major at $6.
Locharburn has drawn the ace but the connections of both Tiger Tara and Cyclone Prince, drawn barriers two and three, have at least expressed interest in their drivers having an early look at the lead. That could again see more pressure in the classic than the barrier draws first indicated.
Meanwhile, star West Australian I'm Victorious is slowly improving after a horror check in Sunday's Inter Dominion Final ended his career.
The former Kiwi pacer was struck by Mach Beauty at the 200m mark in the final and badly cut through the tendons in a front leg.
He needed surgery to save his life but has responded well to that and last night was showing no signs of infection.
"We are not out of the woods yet but hopefully we can save him, although the vets say he won't race again," said trainer Michael Brennan.
NSW glamour driver Lauren Panella was suspended for eight weeks for the incident.
Auckland Trotting Cup
What: $250,000 Auckland Trotting Cup.
Where: Alexandra Park.
When: Friday night, first race at 5.55pm, Cup at 8.25pm.
Who: Terror To Love, Adore Me, Pembrook Benny, Mah Sish and Easy On The Eye.
Courtesy of the New Zealand Herald
Read more by Michael Guerin