Butcher in for big night tonight

By Michael Guerin

Zachary Butcher faces a series of vastly different challenges at Alexandra Park tonight but he is certain horsepower won’t be a problem.

The outstanding northern reinsman partners two favourites in Old Town Road and Merlin, a classy juvenile in Art D’or and a forgotten Derby runner in Major Perry and all have obstacles to overcome.

Butcher is confident at least two of them will.

Old Town Road is one of the most promising pacers in New Zealand but will start from the tricky barrier 1 off a 15m handicap in his first standing start, less than ideal for those taking the short odds.

“I don’t think it will matter,” says Butcher.

“I have driven a lot of good horses and he is open class material. And I think he will step away because he is so clean gaited.

“So while it is a new challenge I am not worried.”

Merlin is the favourite for the $75,000 Breckon Farms Final and has looked the fastest of our early season juveniles but has drawn outside main rivals Seve and Beckham.

“I don’t think we need to worry. They are nice horses but I have beaten Seve both times we have raced him and if we can get some cover I think my horse will have too much speed.”

Butcher says nothing went right for Art D’or last week but she can redeem herself with the potential to lead in the Crombie Lockwood Delightful Lady, but she will need to be good to beat Kahlua Flybye.

Major Perry has had an unusual prep for the Derby, finishing a brave second in the NSW Derby three weeks ago but missing his hometown prelude last Friday.

“I think the one (Beach Ball) will probably lead and then the rest of us will settle in single file until somebody moves but that could put me on the back of Akuta, which will suit me just fine.”

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