Dodgy knees knock Liberty off her Stride

By Michael Guerin


Liberty Stride’s brief but brilliant career is over.

And that means last season’s Breeders Crown winner for Phil Williamson is heading to the broodmare paddock and straight into the class of “what might have been” horses.

Liberty Stride exploded onto the feature race scene last winter when, after demolishing a lower grade field at Forbury Park, she went to Victoria and brilliantly won fresh up.

After galloping in the Victoria Trotting Derby she returned to racing against her own sex in a staggering fashion bolting to a 20m win in the three-year-old fillies Breeders Crown on August 24.

At the end of that campaign she didn’t return home but moved to the Anthony Butt’s Menangle stable where owner Emilio Rosati believed she would have better opportunities.

Sadly she never got to show her best there. 

After running second fresh up for Butt in January she galloped at her next start and was subsequently found to have very bad knees.

“It was a case of bone on bone, the vet said her knees were as bad as he had ever seen in a racehorse,” Butt told HRNZ.

“So we had little choice but to retire her. It is a real shame because she was so talented but at least she got that group one win and being out of Jasmyn’s Gift she will make a great broodmare.

“But we would have loved to have her racing for a few more seasons.”

While Liberty Stride won’t be seen around the Menangle barn of Butt and his fiancee Sonya Smith again they have plenty of horses to go on with as he has become the main trainer for Rosati, arguably the biggest owner in the industry in this part of the world.

That has seen the stable grow enormously, with horses like Wolf Stride, who contests the first Menangle heat of the Regional Series on Tuesday just one of their rising stars.

“He is a really nice horse and has to be hard to beat on Tuesday because he won well last week and he has only improved from that,” says Butt.

“Emilio and Mary have been very good to us and I enjoy working with him.

“As people back home know he has plenty of horses there and he moves them across to Australia when he thinks the time is right.”

The pair’s best horse could be three-year-old trotter Elite Stride, who Butt says could be the real deal.

“He is very, very good and I think he might make a top open class horse,” says the man who handled both Lyell Creek and Take A Moment.

Butt still does plenty of driving for his brother Tim, who is also based at Menangle and the pair won both major trots there on Saturday night with Sassy Pants and Majestic Courtney.

“Sassy Pants is very fast and she showed good manners last week, which was the key for her.

“But Tim’s team is flying so we are both really making the most of it over here.

“At the moment with the regional racing we are racing three or four days a week at Menangle and that really suits us.” The Butt brothers will, however, be hit by the stake decreases announced for the entire NSW harness industry last week, including their home track at Menangle.

“I suppose we expected them and nobody likes to see that,” says Butt before a surprising take on what harness racing administrators on both sides of the Tasman face.

“It is a tough time for everybody and I don’t envy the people trying to run the industry under these circumstances.

“I had a bit to do with administration when I was back home, sitting on handicapping committees and things like that and there is so much more to consider than what you initially think.

“It can be pretty challenging and with so many people wanting what they want, after having been in some of these meetings I am sometimes surprised we get anything done.”


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