David Butt to Astound

NZ HARNESS NEWS

David Butt has driven over 1100 winners but these days he has contented himself with driving just one horse in his brilliantly-bred maiden trotter Astound.

Butt has not won a race since Wilma’s Mate took out the 4YO Ruby at the Harness Jewels in June last year, but Astound will not be long clearing maiden ranks and that could easily come at Washdyke on Saturday.

The four-year-old daughter of Majestic Son and the first foal from Habibti was placed on a number of occasions last season and showed she has come back from a spell “stronger and better” when she resumed with a third behind Majestic Hurricane and Kings Landing at Addington two weeks ago.

Astound was beaten by seven lengths that night, but there was certainly no disgrace in the performance.

 “Astound is going good enough to win a couple of races before too long,” Butt said.

“We gave a little bit of thought to chucking her in foal this season and racing on a bit, but as we have another filly from Habibti now, we decided to race her for another year and maybe she can win some more races before we retire her next season.

“She was a bit nutty for a while there but she’s been better this year and hopefully she might improve a bit more.”

That second filly from form top racemare, Habibti, is a yearling by Andover Hall called Resolve.

He will be broken in by Butt after New Zealand Cup week.

“She was a late foal so Habibti was only bred the once last season (to Kadabra) and missed.

“She was booked to Muscle Hill this season, but the semen hadn’t arrived, so she was served by Father Patrick.”

Astound was the result of an embryo transfer when Habibti was a four-year-old, having completed an outstanding three-year-old season.

Then, she won multiple Group race features, headed by the NZ Trotting Derby over Blitzthemcalder, Royal Aspirations and Sheemon in a national record 3.13.5.

From that season she really only showed glimpses of her best, twice reducing the national 2600m trotting record for mares from a stand.

On the second occasion Habibti came off 20m to beat Sheemon, Stent and Master Lavros in the Canterbury Park Trotting Cup in 3.16.7, a record which has since been reduced to 3.14.8 by her sister Habibti Ivy.

Butt also rates his other starter at the meeting in Son Of A Tiger a winning chance although he’s hoping for a scratching to bring him into the front line, as “he’s a good beginner”.

Son Of A Tiger was also third when resuming at Addington a few weeks ago and then “never got into it” after drawing the second line in a 2400m mobile at Ashburton won in 2.57, home in 26.5sec.

Astound and Son Of A Tiger make up half of Butt’s racing for the moment, with Doitson at Addington this week and last start winner Rollova due back at the trials next week after a freshen up.

“Rollova will race at Ashburton during cup week, while Doitson will start one of the days at Addington.”     

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