Butcher's drive "too cute" but still good enough to win Group 1

By Michael Guerin

It is not often a driver wins a Group 1 and chastises themselves but Zachary Butcher did at Alexandra Park on Friday.

Which is one reason he is one of best.

Two weeks after driving his 1000th domestic winner Butcher reined the same horse Duchess Megxit to what was eventually a pretty easy win in the $140,000 Magness Benrow Sires’ Stakes Final.

The filly was red hot after key rival All You Need Is Me was scratched and looked unbeatable as she strolled to the front early.

But Butcher admits he had a moment of panic when stablemate Ultimate Racy Girl loomed up at the 150m before Duchess Megxit saw her and raced clear.

“It was my own fault for driving her too cute,” says Butcher.

“I was on the best horse and I should have let her run at the 600m because she is so strong but I held her up and let Scotty (Phelan, Ultimate Racy Girl) get close.

“So I get a slap on the wrist for that.”

Butcher is 100 per cent right, he should have gone faster and would have won by more but he is not the first harness driver to make that mistake and ultimately it didn’t cost him or the punters.

“And I don’t think you can give them hard runs all the time, so long-term it will work out well.”

The win completed a feature race double for trainers Barry Purdon and Scott Phelan, adding to their quite extraordinary record in the last six months, even more so since March when they have won a major race almost every weekend they have contested one.

They earlier also quinellaed the IRT Young Guns Trot when in a minor surprise Higher Power ran down Meant To Be after the hot favourite had worked to the lead at the 800m.

It was a fair fight and and the only bigger winner out of the race than Purdon and Phelan was Breckon Farms who bred the first four home and share in the ownership of the winner with their valued farm manager Nigel Fahy.

The night’s other main pace was also an on-pace afffair as Sarah O’Reilly used American Me’s front line draw to perfection in the $50,000 Roy Purdon Memorial.

She skied to a big led then ran sectionals just quick enough to deter challenges and held out the late run of Self Assured, repeating their quinella from December’s Invercargill Cup.

It showed the wisdom of Ashburton trainers Brent and Tim White bringing American Me north for this campaign because while he was largely luckless in both the mobile start Taylor Mile and Messenger, races like the Roy Purdon and the Auckland Cup next Friday are perfect for a horse with his manners and stamina.

American Me is now $9 to win the Cup, with enough to like about Don’t Stop Dreaming, Old Town Road, Self Assured and even a luckless Better Eclipse to say that when you add in the rejuvenated Mach Shard next week we have a race befitting an Auckland Cup. Just.

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