Can Stylish Memphis steal some hearts at Alexandra Park tonight?

By Michael Guerin

One of the country’s most tactical drivers believes Stylish Memphis can win tonight’s $100,000 Queen Of Hearts at Alexandra Park but not in the manner many would expect.

David Butcher will partner the multiple Group 1-winning mare for only the second time in Auckland’s richest mare’s pace of the year but liked how she felt when storming into third in the lead-up race last Friday.

Stylish Memphis is racing in foal so opportunities to embellish her record are running out and if she races up to the form that has seen her earn spots in the Miracle Mile and The Race by Grins she would be the one to beat tonight.

Last Friday she settled back from an outside draw as tonight’s favourite Manhattan led and won and many, including obviously the TAB bookies, expect Manhattan to attempt those tactics again.

Butcher isn’t so sure.

“If we can get across to the lead I will be trying to stay there,” says Butcher.

“The shortest way home is always the markers and there is no point conceding the lead if you don’t have to.

“She was very good last week and she will be better again against the marker pegs so I am sure she can win.”

While there is no guarantee Stylish Memphis can even cross to the lead or hold Manhattan, she is the best performed mare in the race and if Butcher gets her free-rolling in front not only will it improve her chances but diminish those of Manhattan, who is a sensational front runner.

But if the pair get too excited early then Darling Me will be able to move into the race in the middle stages and take advantage so the early burn will be pivotal to how the race plays out, with Stylish Memphis possibly just as potent even if she trails but that brings the tempo and luck of others more into play.

Butcher, as you would expect from the winner of 2557 domestic races and loads of features in Australia, also has a hand to play in tonight’s two major handicaps.

He will partner Kango fresh-up from the New Zealand Cup last month and while he gets a 15m start from 30m backmarker Copy That in the $50,000 Thames Goldfields Cup, Butcher admits that may not be enough.

“It is a tricky little race and if we got the front that would be our best chance but even then the way Copy That is racing he might just be too fast while Hey Bartender is a pretty promising horse, too.”

Butcher also drives Springbank Mason in the $50,000 main trot and while he was good winning here last Friday the opposition jumps up several notches including his former stablemate in Majestic Man.

The genuine open class star starts off the 30m backmark on a track where he has almost always raced well but remarkably in 13 Alexandra Park starts he has only won once, with superstars like Sundees Son and Winterfell costing him a far more imposing record at the Auckland track.

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