First training win for Butcher
Ice cool Zachary Butcher has driven in scores of competitive big stakes races but he’s never been as nervous as at Auckland on Friday night - before a maiden.
That’s because Butcher wasn’t driving any old maiden - he was behind his own horse Zeuss Bromac, whom he trains and part-owns - and the little colt was at unbackable odds of $1.20.
So, when he held off a brave challenge from Lincoln Farms’ stablemate Perfect Stride to win by half a neck, it was a relieved Butcher who stood at the head of the horse for his first winning photo as a trainer.
“I wasn’t as nervous as this on Jewels day,’’ said Butcher. “There was no expectation on us down there but it makes it hard when you’ve got a $1.20 favourite. It was exciting stuff.’’
Butcher, Lincoln Farms’ No.1 driver, is more surprised than anyone that he should open his training account on the Bettor’s Delight colt.
He went to the sales looking for a horse to play round with only because Lincoln Farms’ boss John Street decided he’d encourage his young stable staff by allowing them to train a horse at the stable for no charge.
It was a no brainer that he would check out the first foal of Zeta Bromac whom he, his father David, brother Phil and cousin Shane all drove to win for the late Bob McArdle in an abbreviated nine-start career.
“But you wouldn’t have paid $1000 for him, he was so tiny and hairy,’’ Butcher said.
“It was about the time Bob passed away and when they couldn’t sell him, we leased him off Bromac Lodge.’’
Butcher admits when he saw the colt again, a couple of months after the sale when his dad had broken him in, he nearly put him back on the truck and sent him home.
But, surprisingly for a little horse with nothing much going for him apart from his breeding, Butcher said Zeuss had a great way of pacing.
And while he showed ability as an early two-year-old, showing up at workouts late last year, Butcher played the patient game, waiting until mid-May before lining him up on raceday.
“I always had the Breeders Crown in mind so I didn’t want him up too early.’’
That dream - to train, own and drive a horse at the Breeders’ Crown - looks like coming to fruition now with Zeuss Bromac booked to cross the Tasman on July 31.
But when Zeuss Bromac contests the Crown heats at Shepparton on August 7 he will be sporting different colours, Butcher and his partners having agreed to sell him.
“He’s the sort of horse I’d be keeping in 20 years time but I remember pop (the late John Butcher) always said the first offer is the best offer.
“And you’ll never have a sore bank statement.’’
Butcher says he’ll need to run Zeuss Bromac again before his flight and not being eligible now for the two-year-old race in a fortnight his only option is on July 26.
“He’s still a bit fat so there should be plenty of improvement in him.’’
Butcher says while Zeuss didn’t win by much “I never felt like the other horse would beat me. My horse will never win by much as with half blinkers on he tends to knock off.’’
Perfect Stride will get his chance for revenge at the Breeders’ Crown, trainer Ray Green saying his gutsy performance sitting parked on Friday night cemented the campaign.
“You couldn’t fault him tonight. I was disappointed to see him parked - I was hoping he’d get cover and pounce - but at least he relaxed out there.
“He’s had hell trips lately and paid the price but when he finally gets a decent trip he should win for fun.’’
Courtesy of Barry Lichter