Butcher boys hit Cup Day
By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk
The Butcher clan will head to Addington Raceway on Tuesday with potentially three family members vying to take out the Gr.1 IRT New Zealand Trotting Cup (3200m).
David Butcher has already tasted victory in the great race, winning the 2008 edition behind Changeover, while son Zachary Butcher finished runner-up to Lazarus in 2017 with Jack’s Legend.
Benjamin Butcher will try and replicate his father and brother’s success in the race when he competes in The Cup for the first time on Tuesday.
He will take the reins behind the Steve and Amanda Telfer-trained Check In and he said he is looking forward to realising a childhood dream of driving in the New Zealand Trotting Cup.
“It’s awesome to even have a drive in the race,” he said.
“It is always a race you want to win. Hopefully we can get a bit of luck. There are a few horses in there that are probably a bit better but if everything goes right we won’t be too far away.”
Butcher was pleased to see Check In return to form when runner-up in the Gr.2 Kaikoura Cup (2400m) last week after a series of unplaced runs at Alexandra Park.
“Check In had been racing for a while and the freshen-up might have helped him,” Butcher said.
“He had a good trip and went well at Kaikoura. He has always been one of those horses that have suited when they have gone hard and he has had a good trip. He can keep coming at the end and that’s what we will be looking to get on Tuesday.”
Butcher is particularly looking forward to competing against his family in the big race, with father David set to drive stablemate Triple Eight, while brother Zachary will need a bit of luck to gain a start, with his charge On The Cards the second emergency for the race.
“It adds a bit more competitiveness to it,” Butcher said.
“We will all be looking at beating each other home. If we can’t win it, it will be down to who beat who home.
“It always makes it a bit more fun and it will be a big crowd there on Tuesday, so it will be great fun.”
Butcher will have another shot at Group One glory when he contests the Gr.1 Woodlands Stud Sires’ Stakes Final (1980m) with B D Joe.
The gelding took out Heat 2 of the series at Cambridge Raceway last start, beating home Group One winner American Dealer, and Butcher is optimistic with his charge’s chances in a quality field on Tuesday.
“He is a nice horse,” Butcher said. “There are a few horses in there that are pretty close to each other and we have got a good draw (4) and hopefully we will be able to use it.
“I think that he is a good chance, he would be one of my better chances of the day.”
Butcher will have two further drives on Tuesday, behind Dance Time in the Hornby Liquor Central Mobile Pace (1980m), and Down The Hatch in the Avon City Ford Mobile Pace (1980m).
“Dance Time has been racing well up in Auckland,” Butcher said. “It is always tough in those smaller fields up in Auckland when there are not a lot of moves and you only sprint home.
“He is a bit better with a bit more speed on, but he has got a bit of a drop back in class so it could be a bit easier for him (on Tuesday). He is going really well, so it will be just what happens on the day.
“Down The Hatch has been racing really well this whole prep. It will be a step up in grade on Cup Day, but with the right run I can’t see why she wouldn’t go a good race.”