Butcher back at Alexandra Park after big Cup week
By Michael Guerin
Zachary Butcher hasn’t given up on what some might consider Mission Impossible this year.
The Pukekohe star driver and occasional trainer was the proudest man to run second at Addington last week when Mantra Blue chased home champion filly Millwood Nike in the Nevele R Fillies Final in a Cup day stunner.
While beaten for the first time Mantra Blue beat the others just as easily and while some of Butcher’s best drives have returned north, he is leaving his filly down there to do battle again with Millwood Nike again. Maybe twice.
“We aren’t giving up yet, I was telling Nathan (Purdon, co-trainer) I will find a way to beat them,” smiles Butcher.
“I was so proud of my filly, we worked hard and beat the rest just as easy as she beat us.
“So we will leave her down there and race on December 1 and then in the Oaks on Grand Prix Day.
“Merlin is also staying down there for the Derby so I have some good drives to go back for.”
Before then Butcher has a good book of drives at Alexandra Park tonight with Frankie Major giving him a top chance in Race 2.
“He has been racing really well but there is a fair bit of gate speed inside him so I can see him getting some cover and running at them late,” says Butcher.
Benson Dude (R4, No.8) is another who has to overcome a wide draw but raced in a stronger field last time and hit the line well so would appreciate a solid tempo.
Montana D J (R6, No.2) finds himself in a strong field with gate speed either side of him at the start so Butcher says he will be guided by how trainers Barry Purdon and Scott Phelan want the big pacer driven.
“He had no luck last start so how it all pans out at the start could be crucial in that race,” says Butcher.
He was happy with the fresh up performance of Cyclone Lucky Linda (R7, No.8) last time but she faces a tricky challenge off a 10m handicap over 2200m.
Butcher says his best could even be saved to last when In Excess has only five opponents in the maiden 2200m mobile.
He has chased home two smart types in Better Knuckle Up and Gladys Greenland in his last two starts, the latter in a 55.4 second last 800m so won’t need to go much better tonight.