Butt keen to send trophies back to NZ
By Jonny Turner
There is absolutely no question about which flag Anthony Butt will be flying at the Australasian Breeders Crown in Victoria on Saturday night.
The New Zealand-born reinsman, who has established himself as one of Australia's leading drivers, hopes to send a swag of silverware back to his homeland when he drives four strong chances in group 1 finals at the feature meeting at Melton on Saturday night.
Butt could help trainer Phil Williamson send two Breeders Crown trophies back to Oamaru when he drives Ultimate Stride and Liberty Stride.
Ultimate Stride has dominated his opposition in three starts after crossing the Tasman.
Butt does not think barrier 7 will be enough to stop that winning run.
''I am not too worried. I would sooner be drawn there than out on the back row,'' the driver said.
''I have been really impressed with this guy.
''He has got better and better since he has been here.''
Ultimate Stride dealt to his rivals in Breeders Crown heat with an 11m win.
''He won that race with a leg in the air, really,'' Butt said.
The Oamaru trotter's main rival looks to be fellow heat winner Is That A Bid.
Ultimate Stride was rated a $1.60 win price, ahead of Is That A Bid at $3, with Australian bookmakers this week.
Liberty Stride stunned Australian harness racing fans with a stunning win from a hopeless position in her first run in Australia.
She made a meal of the Victoria Trotters Derby, before qualifying for the 3yr-old fillies' trotting final with a fast-finishing second to Sunny's Little Jestic in her heat run.
Galloping in two of her three Australian starts has resulted in the trotter being placed on the unruly on Saturday night.
Butt does not think that draw will be enough to stop the filly, who was rated a $2.60 favourite this week.
''Her manners were a lot better last week; she was a lot more settled,'' he said.
''She is probably the best horse in the field, I think, but in saying that, she will have to be very good to beat them.
''It won't be easy from the draw. One thing I was particularly pleased with is her main rivals are drawn on the second row with her.''
Butt can only see one other factor, aside from her unruly draw, against Liberty Stride.
''She is still quite inexperienced.
''She hasn't got a lot of experience stopping and starting mid-race, but if it comes down to a dogfight late I think she will be hard to hold out.''
Heat winners Sunny's Little Jestic and Emerald Stride are both rated $6 chances behind the favourite.
Australian bookmakers rated I Am Pegasus, who trailed Liberty Stride home in her heat, the second favourite at $3.90 this week.
Butt's Australasian Breeders Crown chances do not end with Phil Williamson's trotting duo.
The reinsman will drive Perfect Stride, a leading chance in the 2yr-old male pacers final, for Auckland trainer Ray Green.
Butt will also drive Northern Oaks winner Best Western for another Auckland trainer in Jeremy Young.
Best Western could be running for second, as she has to take on raging hot favourite and star Kiwi filly Princess Tiffany.