Strong book of drives for Butcher at Auckland
By Michael Guerin
Zachary Butcher believes he can win three of the best races at Alexandra Park tonight even though all three horses may have to do it the hard way.
As one of New Zealand’s superstar harness drivers Butcher knows better than most the importance of leading and trailing at Alexandra Park but he, like his father David, has also built a reputation from dramatic swooping drives with some of his greatest wins being last-stride nail-biters.
The younger Butcher may need to employ those skills with Call Me Trouble (R4, No.8), Zarias (R7, No.10) and Gandalf (R9, No.7), all three clearly good enough to win but likely to be off the speed starting the last 800m.
Butcher works for Ray Green at Lincoln Farms but still trains two horses of his own in Call Me Trouble and Zarias and is confident with both tonight.
“Call Me Trouble has been going really good races off similar handicaps but went through a slight lull patch about a month ago but he seems to be a really good place at the moment,” says Butcher.
“He went well at the workouts last week and with the scratching of the favourite from his race I think he can overcome the 40m even over 2200m.
“It won’t be easy and from a back mark like that you can’t loop them and attack to win but I think if he is sitting midfield on the outer he has to go close as he will have too much speed for most of them.”
Zarias is owned by Butcher’s grandmother Colleen so his wins mean even more than usual for Zachary and he looked suited by one of tonight’s $20,000 Winter Rewards races, a great initiative from HRNZ that has added some extra spice to the meeting.
“The stakes going to $20,000 helps and gives us a target at this time of the year and being 2700m it tends to mean the better horses come to the fore.
“I think this race is ideal for him. He has been getting beaten by nice intermediate grade horses but comes in well here and should get a nice run through from two on the second line so he will be very hard to beat.”
Butcher pilots inexperienced but clearly talented two-year-old Gandalf in tonight’s juvenile race and while he only just justified his hot favouritism in a similar field last start he came from off the speed in a fast 27.3 second last 400m to overpower his rivals.
“It was a really good win and I think he is a good horse,” says Butcher.
“There is only so much you can do to win on debut, you aren’t going to pace a quarter (400m) in 25 seconds and win by 10 lengths.
“He may have to come from off the speed again but he has a touch of class.”
Among Butcher’s other drives are Keystone Comet (R1, No.3), who is in good form but is still learning how to race right-handed while Argyle (R6, No.7) has been an massive improver for trainer Green lately but faces some tough opponents from a tricky draw tonight.
Guerin's best for Friday night :
Best: Chimichurri (R6, No.4): Looked like he needed run when peaking late last start but should lead here and win from front line draw tonight.
Suited: Zarias (R7, No.10): Has been getting beaten recently by better horses than he meets tonight and blew standing start last time. Everything looks ideal for him tonight and the 2700m distance should see his class prevail.
Each way: Nelson’s Boy (R5, No.12): Won his only attempt over 2700m and not a gate speed horse so second line draw won’t change racing pattern. Far from push-button but if they go hard he will outstay most of these.