Day At The Track

Butt reins supreme

12:17 AM 28 Jan 2020 NZDT
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 Lochinvar Art, harness racing
Lochinvar Art
Stuart McCormick Photo

An extraordinary night for harness racing reinsman Anthony Butt, who claimed both the three-year-old Group 1 features, and a ground-breaking performance by Lochinvar Art, highlighted a stunning Night 2 of the TAB Summer of Glory.

Butt doubled-down on a sublime Saturday evening at Tabcorp Park Melton when he added the Downbytheseaside Victoria Derby to an earlier Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Oaks triumph, with Line Up carrying his favouritism status with aplomb in the $200,000 feature.

Butt, a former Melton resident who’s recently moved to Sydney, led from the outset with Line Up, spacing the chasing bunch with a 26.8-second third quarter before closing with a 27.8-second final 400 metres, which was enough to win by 1.6 metres from Grant Dixon’s Governor Jujon.

“He’s a lovely horse, very relaxed,” Butt said.

“He just went to sleep in front, that’s what he likes. When I pulled the plugs around the bend he really zipped away. It was a big effort.”

It capped a big night for Butt, who earlier won the $150,000 Victoria Oaks with Dr Susan for New Zealand co-trainers Nathan Purdon and Cran Dalgety.

Dr Susan actually broke her gait in a false start, but second time around would break the hearts of her rivals with a 26.3-second third quarter to set up victory in the Group 1.

The all-the-way win was scored by 4.4 metres from favourite Stylish Memphis, a satisfying win for co-trainer Dalgety that he dedicated to Bacchus Marsh reinsman Gavin Lang, who is battling ill-health.

“I just saw my good friend Gavin Lang today,” Dalgety said post-race.

“Gavin’s having a wee bit of an off time, if I can dedicate a race I’m going to dedicate it to that good man Gavin Lang. It seems a bit hollow tonight not having him win one of these big races.”

The three-year-old classics were almost overshadowed by Lochinvar Art’s extraordinary performance in the Group 1 Alabar 4YO Bonanza, where he not only beat highly touted Self Assured but won in a 1:48.6 mile rate, the first time a horse has broken the magical 1:50 barrier in Victoria.“He’s just a legend really,”

Lochinvar Art’s trainer-driver David Moran said.

“I’m chuffed and lost for words. He’s just a champion.”

There was also plenty of fun on track when Always Fast won the Mercury80 for Kima Frenning and Emma Stewart, capping the terrific 1200-metre series that began in front of thousands at Melton on New Year’s Eve.

But it’s perhaps the Allied Express Casey Classic and DNR Logistics V L Dullard Trotters Cup that will create most conversation this week.

Those two features are likely to be key lead-ins to this Saturday’s headliners on Night 3 of the TAB Summer of Glory back at Tabcorp Park Melton – the $500,000 Del-Re National A. G. Hunter Cup and the $250,000 What The Hill Great Southern Star.

Those two crowns form Victoria’s richest pacing race and Australia’s richest trotting race respectively and will draw Australasia’s most talented harness racing combatants to battle for a place in equine immortality.

Kiwi Mach Shard reaffirmed he’ll be a contender in the Hunter Cup with Saturday night’s bold win in the Casey Classic.

By Tim O’Connor

Reprinted with permission of The Star Weekly

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