Butt's Ballarat Cup chances - "we are going to need some luck"

By Adam Hamilton

Champion driver Anthony Butt knows better than most how good the best Kiwi pacers are.

Butt’s driven so many Kiwi stars to major wins in Australia, but this time he finds himself on the other side of the fence.

Butt has picked-up the drive on emerging Aussie star Rock N Roll Doo while trainer Mick Stanley recovers from a back injury.

And he takes the reins for the first time in a race for Saturday night's  $150,000 Group 1 Ballarat Cup, due to go at 11.18pm. Rock N Roll Doo is currently at $4.50 on the fixed odds.

A combination of a tricky draw and respect for a few key rivals – including star Kiwi pair Copy That ($4.00) and Old Town Road  ($13.00) – has Butt hopeful more than confident.

“If the emergency (Interest Free) doesn’t get a run, then we start from the pole and it’s really the one draw we didn’t want for this horse,” Butt said.

“He’s not the quickest out and he’s still learning, so we could be shuffled back.

“I’d love to have drawn out a bit so he could balance up early, but we’re going to need some luck now.”

Rock N Roll Doo drew the pole at his latest run when easily crossed at the start in the Bendigo Cup. He then became fired-up and choked down before Stanley eased him out of the race.

During that, a rival horse crashed into Stanley’s back and fractured two vertebrae. He will be sidelined for a couple of months.

Stanley and owner Brendan James quickly snapped-up Butt as substitute.

“I drove him a couple days after that race in a (Geelong) trial and he felt fantastic. I’ve been up to Mick Stanley’s place a few times since to drive him in work,” Butt said.

“He’s taken no harm from Bendigo. I couldn’t be happier with him and we know how good he is when he’s right.

“It’s just the draw makes things a bit tricky, plus the quality of opposition is fantastic this week.

“It’s the best race we’ve seen in Australia or New Zealand for a long, long time. Probably three years or so.”

Butt knows Copy That very well having driven him in races before and he also has huge respect for John Dickie’s Old Town Road.

“Copy That is a terrific horse and he’s obviously in great form. If he gets a good spot from his draw (gate five), he’s going to be very hard to beat,” he said.

“Old Town Road is the rising star. His runs back at NZ Cup time were outstanding and he wouldn’t be here unless he was ready. Like me, he’ll need a bit of luck from his draw, starting from inside the back row and probably behind me.”

Butt rates Jason Grimson’s latest star Major Meister ($6.50)  and David Aiken’s recent Kiwi import Cranbourne ($3.50) as other key players.

“Major Meister has been a revelation. To be decked like he was at Bendigo, get going again and win. It’s a rare horse who can do that,” he said.

“This is obviously harder again, but he’ll be one of the toughest to beat.

“Cranbourne looked sharp winning last week at his first run here and should only be improved again from the run.

“A lot will depend on the first 100-150m where Nathan (Jack, driver) will be desperate to hold the lead on Cranbourne while Torrid Saint tries to get across him.

“If Torrid Saint finds the front, he’ll almost certainly take a sit and Copy That could be the first one to get to him.

“It’s going to be a fantastic race and when you throw in Expensive Ego and Spirit Of St Louis, we’re going to have an awesome Hunter Cup in a couple weeks.”

 

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