Butt arrives in the nick of time for Group 1 triumph

By Garrick Knight

Ex-pat Kiwi horseman Anthony Butt put aside a hellish 18 hours to win the day’s feature trot at Addington on Tuesday.

Driving Sydney visitor Tough Monarch, Butt executed an aggressive front-running drive to win the $100,000 Group 1 New Zealand Trotting Free For All.

In frantic scenes, the now Sydney-based Cantabrian Butt only arrived on course mere minutes before the horses were due to go on track.

Smoke from the wild fires raging in New South Wales saw his flight cancelled last evening and he only landed in the country 1 hour before the start of the race.

“It was a nightmare,” he said post-race.

“I went there yesterday afternoon and when I’d nearly got to the airport, I got a text that said the flight was postponed for three hours until 10 o’clock last night.

“I went to them and said, tell me now if it’s not going to go and I’ll get on something else.

“They said no, no it’s definitely going to go and then at about 9 o’clock they cancelled on me.

“By then it was too late to get on anything else.”

So, Butt went back home to Menangle and tried everything he could to try and get to Addington the next day.

“I was up half the night trying to find flights.

“I tried everything – through Auckland, through Melbourne, through Brisbane.

“But there was only one option and it got in at 2 o’clock.”

The race was set down to start at 2.47 on the other side of town. It didn’t seem likely.

“But luckily we landed 10 minutes early. Plus, I only had carry-on and the attendants put me right by the door so I was first off.”

His mum, Jenny Butt, picked him up and rushed across town while Butt got changed in to his driving gear in the back seat.

He ran in to the Addington stables just five minutes before the horses were called on to the track.

Tough Monarch, off the back of an excellent trial on the track last Wednesday, was a $3 favourite with punters and never them any cause for concern.

“He felt good the whole way,” said Butt.

“We sort of had to a bit early but he was comfortable and Rickie (Alchin, trainer) said to not let them get up to him.

“Round the bend they started to drop off and we put a gap on them.”

About then, fellow Australian trotter, McLovin, was extracted to the outside by Kate Gath and launched a grinding finish.

He got close, but not close enough, and the pair recorded a famous Australian quinella on New Zealand’s biggest race day.

Tough Monarch has been there or thereabouts in all the features across the ditch in recent seasons, but Tuesday’s was his first Group 1 win after three placings.

“He’s just a wee professional.

“It was his first Group 1, but he’s been around about it a lot of the time so he really deserves this.”

Gath was thrilled with McLovin’s effort, saying he overcome a less-than-preferable draw and trip to finish close up in second.

“I was really happy with him.

“I was a little bit disheartened when the draws came out and we knew Tough Monarch would be tough to beat off the front.

“So, to get as close as we did was pleasing and it’s a good sign for the Dominion on Friday.”

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