Day At The Track

Tim Butt moving to Australia

09:58 AM 13 Sep 2017 NZST
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Tim Butt, Harness Racing
Tim Butt
Stuart McCormack photo

Tim Butt's relationship with New Zealand racing is about to change but it is a case of "it's not you, it's me".

The most successful ever Grand Circuit trainer will move to Australia in November and spend most of his time there, even though he will maintain a base in Canterbury.

Butt intends campaigning stable star My Field Marshall wherever the best money is in Australia as well as class four-year-old Let It Ride. But his main Australian base will be a 20-horse barn at Menangle, outside Sydney.

"I will still have a stable in Canterbury but that will be as part of a training partnership," says Butt.

"I am getting close to announcing that and that will start from December or January.

"So I will still be coming home but for much of the last two decades I have spent nine months in New Zealand and three months in Australia, now it will probably be the other way around."

Butt has had enormous success in both countries with a string of harness racing heroes like Lyell Creek, Flashing Red, Take A Moment, Mr Feelgood and Mister D G but he has been especially good at picking the eyes out of the Australian riches.

And while New Zealand harness racing is finally going through a boost with some major stakes increases, Butt says the time is right for him to make the move. "I am coming up 50 at Christmas and I want to try something different to invigorate my career.

"Things have stagnated here a bit because they go in cycles and we don't have the same owners we had a decade ago. I have only bought one yearling at the sales here in the last three years."

But the restlessness goes further than that.

"I have been doing this my whole adult life and I don't want to be going to the same meetings, especially some of the smaller ones, that I was 20 years ago in another 20 years' time.

"I like the idea of Menangle, how it is set up with a barn at the track and racing there two or three times a week without as much travel.

"And in Australia there is so much more racing, not just for a top horse like Field Marshal but good bread and butter horses.

"There are nice, steady free-for-all horses in Sydney who have won $300,000-$400,000. So with those opportunities and the fact our kids are older now the time is right to try something different.

"But it's not about how the industry is going here, stakes are starting to pick up momentum. It's about how we want to live our lives."

Butt's brother and long-time stable driver Anthony is an obvious blueprint for a successful Australian move as he has re-established himself as one of Australasia's best reinsmen since moving to Victoria three years ago.

"Ants has always been a top driver but his drives were drying up here as my team got smaller and again, these things go in cycles. But he is flying in Victoria now."

New Zealand trainers of both codes setting up satellite stables in Australia is nothing new but many don't last because of the difficulties of finding the right staff to implement their exact training philosophies.

"That is why I will be spending most of my time in Sydney because I want to set the stable up and do it right.

"So after Cup week in Christchurch I will be taking six or seven horses across and then hopefully be available for other New Zealand-owned horses who are better suited over there."

Who:

Timothy Grant Butt

New Zealand career: 821 wins (175 in partnership with Phil Anderson). NZ Cup (twice), Auckland Cup, Dominion (eight times), Rowe Cup (four), Harness Jewels (four).

Australian career: Leading Grand Circuit trainer ever with 50 victories, including Inter Dominion Pacing Final, Interdom Trotting Final (three) and Hunter Cup (five times).

Michael Guerin

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