Master Musician had to be the outstanding horse he is to resist the earnest efforts of Impressionist, Sogo and Tartan Clansman in the John Brandon 30 NZ Derby. And Stabilizer might have joined them, too, had David Butcher chosen to leave Mac Magpie's back in the early stages of the race rather than later, when the others were splitting up the prizes.
Impressionist was forced to work a little hard until he got to the lead at the 2000 metres. At that stage, Master Musician, who was able to follow Cadillac Jack forward, was fourth, trailing sweetly on the outer, and Tartan Clansman was behind him. Stabilizer, who was second at the 2300m, was four deep and 7th at the 2000m. Just as he did on the middle night, Robert Dunn put Master Musician into open country near the 750m. He joined the attack before the corner and fought his way clear. His pursuers weren't easy to shake off. Tartan Clansman tried hard to stick with him, Impressionist didn't submit without a fight, and Sogo emerged to battle past the pair right at the end and ran Master Musician to a short length.
It took Master Musician 3:13.5 to complete the mobile 2600m, and only Winning Blue Chip, who won the Derby last year in 3:12.2, has gone faster among those of his age. A son of New York Motoring, bought for $37,000 at the International Sale, Master Musician is raced by Ken McDonald and Eugene Storck, who are scrap metal dealers, and Dunn. Outside of his $500,000 won on bonuses, Master Musician has now earned $772,414, the result of 14 wins and a third from 16 starts.
As he did on the second night, Mr McDonald paid tribute to veterinarian Dr Peter Gillespie who has monitored the health of his young champion so carefully these past few weeks. Said Dunn: "He has a tie-up problem and he seems to pick up a virus so easily. The checks Peter has been able to give him have been vital."
Dunn, aged 36, said the win had been a great thrill, and rivalled that of National Glory in the Sires' Stakes Final. "We've really had so many over the last two or three years, it's hard to choose," he said.
Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HR Weekly
Smooth Performer's front running win in the $45,000 Nevele R Stud New Zealand Oaks was good news for the Southland syndicate who bought her sire Top Performer for $32,000 at auction in March.
Top Performer (1:55.6US) is to stand at Henderson and Shelly Hunter's stud farm at Edendale next season. Top Performer stood in Canterbury last season after earlier being at the Kenwood Stud in Cambridge. Smooth Performer is from the first crop of the son of Niatross. She is owned by Harness Racing Conference executive member Ollie Haines and his wife Irene who bred her from Annie Smooth (3 wins)who had her race career cut short by injury.
In an action replay of the Great Northern Oaks finish, only with the placings reversed, Smooth Performer hung on to win by half a head from Smooth Gretna, who had trailed three back on the fence for Glen Wolfenden. The previous week she had got up to score by a short neck but David Butcher's strong drive on Smooth Performer got her home. He was able to dictate the pace with few
serious challengers and sprinted home in 57.8 with the overall time being 3:17.5, 1.6s outside Happy Hazel's national record.
The hot favourite, Seaswift Franco, was trapped three and four wide over the first lap and then sat parked, leaving Jack Smolenski cursing the outside barrier draw and the bad luck which has dogged him since Time's Up won 10 years ago. Her effort deserved a better fate and the rich DB Fillies Final might provide her connections with some compensation. The racing luck was with Smooth Performer in the Oaks, leaving her connections over the moon. Trainer John Butcher described her a natural from day one while Haines, the vice-president of the Cambridge Club, said it was easily his biggest thrill in racing. It was Smooth Performer's seventh win in 13 starts and took her earnings over $96,000.
The first three home were clear of their rivals although c2 horses Camara Vance, who trailed, and Silky Midas, running on well after being second last most of the journey, did well to run fourth and fifth ahead of Alamidas who battled in the run home after improving wide the last lap.
Credit: Gary Birkett writing in HR Weekly
Kiwi Scooter was rugged the winner of the $150,000 John Brandon 30 New Zealand Derby. Australian visitor Lotsnlots again found the Roy and Barry Purdon - trained gelding superior but ran gamely for second, and the filly Tigerish put up a run that would have won 99 out of 100 races for a gaining third.
The 3:13.6 for the mobile 2600 was the third fastest Derby run - behind Master Musician's 3:13.5 and Winning Blue Chip's 3:12.2 - which was the type of race Kiwi Scooter wanted. Barry Purdon has always promoted staying power as Kiwi Scooter's best weapon and the hectic pace set by Clever Legend and Jimmy Curtin could not have suited him more.
While not the quickest out, the son of Direct Scooter left the gate at good speed and kept handy for the first 400 metres. Some early sprints, including a blinder from Lotsnlots near the 1900 metres, forced him back in the field, and near the 1400m Purdon decided to employ the grinding tactics that worked so well in his win the previous week. "He can get out of the gate quick, but it seems better to settle him. He doesn't run out of gas that way," said Barry. On the corner as Lotsnlots tried to apprehend him, Kiwi Scooter pulled away, and went on to win in very convincing fashion.
Tigerish, all class, came from far back for a close third to win $15,000 and Harmers Choice, while looking an unlucky fourth was apparently not because driver David Butcher said he doubted whether the horse was capable of finishing any closer. Master Blaster a worthy third on the middle night, was taken back from the gate at the start, and was never in the hunt afterwards.
Kiwi Scooter was not an easy horse to handle early in his career, though Barry did not connect it with the fact he had one testicle. "I thought he was a rig. When his other testicle came down, his attitude seemed to improve," he said.
Kiwi Scooter, now starting a spell from racing, is on c8, the same mark as Tigerish. Barry said it was "ridiculous" that after just two seasons of racing and about 20 starts each, both horses would go into open class racing. "It's tough on them. There should be a limit on how farthey can go at this age, say c7 for the colts and c6for a filly," he said.
Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HR Weekly
A medley of incidents and accidents before the start added spark to the DB Draught NZ Trotting Cup at Addington on Tuesday.
The signs were there but hard to read when Ritchi reared in the birdcage as the horses left for the barrier. Once at the start, and when all was in readiness, Ritchie performed again, this time rearing backwards and buckling his sulky shafts. Driver David Butcher was lucky to be unhurt and he deserved a medal for holding on and saving what might have been a minor disaster. It was bad enough as it was. Club veterinary surgeon Cliff McGrouther was then despatched to the start to see if Ritchie was in the right health to start. He was, though Steven Reid, his co-trainer with Tremain Thorby, thought the prudent course might have been to scratch him considering the drama he'd been through.
The second attempt to line up was better but not good. Happy Asset nearly went through the strand and had to be taken out and put in line again. No sooner had he stood up again, and they were off, but not with Agua Caliente. Under Cover Lover was a clear leader and Ritchie was with her after 300 metres when starter Jack Mulcay whistled them back for a false start. Chief Stipe Neil Escott was soon in contact with Mulcay: "What's happening over there?" "Agua Caliente was side on," reported Mulcay.
Meantime, in the engine room, Racing Manager Tony Lye is reopening the tote, checking the start time of a North Island galloping race, and thinking the delay might mean a bigger handle. Nearly 20 minutes have gone since start time, and the field is still in the starters hands.
HRNZ Executive Member Charlie Hunter, who has seen his fair share of Cups, goes past: "Ever seen anything like this before?" CEO Mike Godber sees some relief in the situation. Sweating in his tails, he is able to remove his top hat and mop the brow. "I won't look. Just tell me if they're all away," he says.
At the third attempt, the field is despatched as one, with Under Cover Lover again leading out from Kate's First and Holmes D G. At this point, Barry Purdon, still thinking he had a lucky break over the false start when Holmes D G made a match-losing gallop, drives the favourite forward to lead. This was predictable. In the last five or six years, the Cup favourites have always led over the last mile and most of them for much more. This is the place for the best horse to be, and Purdon was happy to be there. Agua Caliente was back and Homin Hosed parked. No change, except for a plucky run by Bogan Fella who came up to be second with a lap to run. But still no pressure, and no time to talk of.
The race almost had a fairy-tale look on the corner. 'A driving win for Barry at his ninth attempt ...or was it 10?' 'A very worthy consolation prize for beleagured All Black coach John Hart who arrived home from England at 5am that morning.' 'The favourite delivers in the end.' And the picture developed with some certainty like this from the 400m to the 300m and the 200m, even the 100m where Bogan Fella finally let go. But shapes change and Purdon was somewhat dismayed a few strides later when he saw a head appear outside of Bogan Fella and coming at quite a rattle. "I couldn't see the horse, just a head. I thought it was Denis Wilson's horse," he said. The danger was greater than that. Homin Hosed.
Addington has been good country in the past for Holmes D G. It's also been the land of plenty for Homin Hosed. In two starts, he hasn't been beaten at Addington. At 3200m, his record at Addington is perfect. After looking so convincing for so long up the straight, Holmes D G lingered for just a fraction near the post. Purdon knew it. "I thought there might have been half a head in it," he said. There was a nose, and Homin Hosed still has a perfect record at Addington.
Time is critical but margins win races. 4:04.3 is the official time for Homin Hosed and Holmes D G in the DB Draught NZ Trotting Cup. In the space of less than a tenth of a second, when small fortunes can be won and lost, Homin Hosed nailed the victory in the very last stride. The difference was huge: $209,000 instead of $69,910, honourable mention in the record books, fame and fortune by a nose.
It was a Holmes Hanover quinella in the DB Draught NZ Cup, a North Island 1,2,3,4 with Bogan Fella third and Kate's First fourth - a tight finish after a tame race.
The winners are modest, retiring people. The Maceys, Bryan and his wife Marilyn, are 66 and 65. Instead of doing less at their age, they are doing more; Bryan busy with six horses besides Homin Hosed, Marilyn managing an educational trust. When it came to say thanks for so much to so many at the end of the race, it was Marilyn who took charge. "I don't think Bryan could say anything at the moment." Clutching the Cup, she said:"We've never been here on Cup Day before. It was going to be a wonderful day for us, even without winning," she said. After thanking the club, the sponsors, their driver Todd Mitchell, Marilyn said:"And I must thank the trainer. I am only a part-owner but I must say it's our most memorable moment." Later Bryan did have his say: "I can't really describe how I feel at the moment."
All agree, Homin Hosed has never run a bad race. He won his first race in modest company at Manawatu. "Peter Stephens loaned us Miss Piggy, a Noodlum mare, and one of the chaps from Pyne Gould Guinness said we couldn't go wrong sending her to Holmes Hanover," he recalled. Miss Piggy was from Halter Prize, by Mark Lobell, from the Lucky Hanover mare Lucky Lea, who earlier left the useful winners Hanover Heels and Halter Hal. Previously, she had been to Happy Cat, Slugger and Cheshire, none of which figured in the same commercial street as Holmes.
Macey, a retired vet, put his foot in the water as a trainer in the 80s when he bred an raced Royal Pandora, a mare by Royal Scotchman. "When she won her first start and then her second I thought how good it was. But then she never won another race." Then, he came up with the smart pacer Single Cee, by Crockett and from the same family as Homin Hosed, who won nine before going to the States.
With Homin Hosed, Macey has seldom had much to worry about. He had a little problem with a corn after Kaikoura but it was hardly worth a mention. If there was an issue, it might have been bringing Homin Hosed to the hard racing trim Macey wanted. Working at home, without the choice of companions a big stable can offer, Macey had to take what he could get. "He's a lazy horse at home and needed that run at Kaikoura. He's so tough, and he just relaxes," he said.
Homin Hosed will now embark on assignments equally challenging. He will race in the Miracle Mile if invited - "We will accept an invitation although he's not really a miler" - and then to Melbourne for the Inter-Dominions.
In Macey's care at home are a 2-year-old half-sister to Homin Hosed by Sundon, a yearling half-sister by Il Vicolo, and Miss Piggy is booked to In The Pocket this season.
Thrilled with the support of his local community, Macey acknowledged this by using the colours of Waikato on his pacer's breastplate. He also knows the value of sponsors. One of the first to shake his hand on winning the Cup was George Calvert, who sponsored the Easter Cup Homin Hosed won at Addington on his last trip. "He wrote me a great letter after it. He's one of the best," said Calvert as he congratulated Macey.
Credit: Mike Grainger writing in the HR Weekly
There were plenty of reasons why Nicky Chilcott couldn't win the Easter Cup. Firstly, he representative was Disprove, a mere C6 pacer up against ten others who, between them, had won every major Cup that exists on the Australasian calendar. Secondly, Disprove had endured a horror trip south, being stranded on the wharf at Wellington after leaving Bulls at 4:30am on Wednesday morning, two days out from the race, and not arriving in Christchurch until 7:30pm that night. And lastly, Nicky didn't have anywhere near the same big-race experience as the Purdons, the Butts and the De Filippis; the biggest event she had ever won was the $25,000 Country Cups Championship with Disprove at Alexandra Park just a week earlier.
Nicky was a bit out of her league, wasn't she?
Definitely not. History will show that in the 2001 Easter Cup Disprove defied all the odds, giving her trainer the biggest thrill of her life. Despite an uncharacteristic break at the start, he and his under-rated driver David Butcher managed to secure the one-one over the last lap after moving around the field starting the last mile. From there they pounced and left everybody else to it, winning the two-mile event in a pedestrian 4:10.7 which was embarrassing for the sit-sprinters behind them.
"I will treasure this for ever," Nicky said afterwards, still sporting a glazed look of disbelief on her face. No-one probably deserved the victory more than her though, because while every trainer works hard to get their horses to the post, Nicky works twice as hard. "It is a tough industry to get ahead in whether you are male or female, but being a woman you sort of have to prove yourself that much more," she said. "It has it's positives and negatives though. Egos do come into it - some guys don't want their horses trained by a female - but then again there's the owners that prefer their horses having a woman's touch."
And there is the "huge hours" that seem to go hand in hand with the job. Nicky rises at 5:00am every morning, seven days a week, and at the end of the day when she has checked the horses, mucked out the boxes and done some bookwork, it's rarely before 11:00pm when she puts herself to bed again. This is a heck of a lot of dedication, especially from someone who has had to pick herself up and start again after breaking her back in a horrific race smash. "Some people only see the glamour side of harness racing," she says. "But it's hard, and there is not a lot of money in it. If I had have been working for the money I would have been out of the game a long time ago. No, I am in it for the love of the game. I am very passionate about my horses and I love them."
Nicky says she got the right break at the right time when first starting out, because a couple of friends wanted to race a horse and that is all the encouragement she needed. Waharoa put her on the map - she trained him for the last six of his 10 victories - and he was followed by Shredder, who won all but one of his 11 races in Nicky's tangerine and white silks. Yet to complete her fourth full season, Nicky has notched up 78 victories already, 22 of them in this term alone - all at an excellent UDR rating of .3876.
Placing variety at the top of her priority list, she strives to give her horses as much of it as possible, going from swimming one day to trackwork the next, roadwork on another occasion and even a ride under saddle at the end of the week. Nicky spends a lot of time at Raglan Beach, one hour's drive from where her horses are stabled out the back of the Cambridge Raceway, and they seem to thrive on it. So much so, that she has quickly gained a 'Warren Stapleton-like reputation for rejuvenating broken-down horses. "You are lucky in some respects, because when you get horses from other trainers you have got nothing to lose. It's very satisfying winning races with them though."
Nicky says there are so many people to thank for making her Easter Cup victory possible, including her long list of helpers, Disprove's owners Lou Newman and Tony Jack for their faith in her and their horse, Colin and Julie De Filippi for their hospitality, and David Butcher for yet another masterful drive. "I love driving, and drive most of mine, but some horses just suit certain drivers better and Disprove is one of those.
"Where a lot of horses I get are broken down or sore I have had none of these problems with him, touch wood, it has mainly been a head thing. It hasn't been easy.
Credit: John Robinson writing in HRWeekly 11Apr01
If you think Hot Shoe Suffle is good now, just wait until she grows into her massive frame. That is the warning from Hot Shoe Suffle's co-trainer Mike Berger, who believes the best is still to from the towering 16.3-hand filly. "She was big at two, so I hoped she would fill out this season but she hasn't; she has been growing up, not out," Berger said. "I think she could develop into an awesome mare at four and five. And when she does finally fill out - look out!"
Strong words indeed, but Berger had every reason to be bullish about Hot Shoe Shuffle after her performance in the $106,700 PGG Yearling Sales Series Fillies Pace. Aided by a masterful drive by regular pilot David Butcher, Hot Shoe Shuffle shifted out of the trail starting the last lap and secured the one-one behind fellow Falcon Seelster filly Angela Jane, who had circled the field three wide. From there they always had the drop on their biggest danger. To her credit Angela Jane forced the issued around the top bend and momentarily skipped a length or two clear, but she couldn't hold out Hot Shoe Shuffle's finishing punch near the line.
The victory was Hot Shoe Shuffle's eighth from 16 starts, and together with four seconds she has now netted her owners over $180,000. This is a super return on the $13,000 that the Hot Shoe Shuffle Breeding Syndicate parted with to buy her from the sales, and her record is even more impressive considering that Friday night was the first time in her career that she had drawn inside seven.
Winning the PGG Sales Series Pace was also some consolation for missing two big fillies' races at the Auckland Cup Carnival, the Ladyship Stakes and the Great Northern Oaks. "I found her one day with some grazing on a back leg, so she must have kicked through a fence or something," Berger said. "She was in work at the time, and it took ages for the bruising to come down. Most owners might have wanted to start in those races regardless, but her's were quite happy to bypass them. "They are a great syndicate to train for. It made my job a lot easier. It's hard enough getting a nice horse, let alone pushing her into races she is not ready for."
Two races that remain on Hot Shoe Shuffle's programme for the season are the Wayne Francis Memorial Oaks on May 3 and the Nevele R Fillies Final a week later. "She will go home and have a wee break now, and then we might tackle another heat of the Nevele R Series.
"One of he owners lives in Brisbane so there is a possibility she could go to Australia later in the season - it is only an option at this stage though. Being a lightly-framed filly it is easy to over-work her, it's just a matter of getting your timing right. Her best attribute would be her tremendous will to win. Even at home when she is jogging she has just got to get in front of any other horses that are with her."
Credit: John Robinson writing in HRWeekly 20Feb02
Has David Butcher ever driven better? Regardless of whether he has or not, he can claim to be in superb form.
After driving 33-to-one shot Purr Along to victory at Alexandra Park on Thursday night, he was a Addington the next night, to settle a score with Disprove. The son of Camelon had raced without luck on either of the first two days at the Cup Meeting.
Again Butcher found him in fine fettle. He was quite relaxed about sitting in the open over the last lap of the SBS Banking Like It Should Be/ Heller Smallgoods Free-For-All, and he responded generously in the straight to win by two lengths from Mister D G, with a tiring Stars And Stripes all-out to hold third from Eastwood Jaunty.
Possibly in the best form of his career just now, and with an obvious liking for he big Addington track, Disprove went a super time for the 2600m mobile, taking 3:10.7. His programme now includes the Auckland Cup meeting, which trainer Nicky Chilcott is doing with some reluctance. "He is so much better going this way round, but what can you do? We can't really be sitting at home with a horse like him when that is going on," she said.
Chilcott again said how touch and go it was to have Disprove at the meeting. "I panicked early on. I was really worried about him. To be honest, I really wasn't that keen on coming south," she said. She chanced her arm on the environment at David and Catherine Butt's where she thought the beach work would be the tonic he needed. "Back home, he walks in the water, and that is about it," she said.
While the Auckland carnival is on the agenda, and that is about all, Melbourne is a firm one. "The Hunter Cup and the Victoria Cup are definitely on for us," said the pacer's part-owner, Wellington real estate agent Louis Newman, who races the horse with taxi driver Tony Jack and Lyn Jacobsen.
"They have had a lot of trouble with him, and twice he nearly died," said Newman. "Nicky has been superb with him, and David has given a lot of advice as well," he said. Newman was generous in his praise for Peter Jones, who gave the horse one race "then advised us to have him trained up north."
"It was just luck that I stumbled on him," said Chilcott.
Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HRWeekly 27Nov02
Welcome back, Falcon Seelster. And what better way to acknowledge his return than the success of Elsu in the $100,000 George Calvert Cleaning New Zealand Derby.
The winner of the Sales Series Pace for 3-year-olds last November was back on the same platform after he called the shots over the last lap to beat Light And Sound. At one stage, brief though it may have been, Light And Sound appeared as if he would rally and take the challenge further. And had the race been a month and another race or so later, this may well have been the case. But this is little more than speculation because Elsu was superior on the night, and David Butcher was tactician supreme. He controlled the pace and wasn't worried he had Light And Sound on his back. "The draw was a big thing, but the race pretty much fell together. Considering the racing he's done, Light And Sound has done a huge job," said Butcher. He put trainer Geoff Small in the same category. "Geoff has done a super job. When Elsu came back in after his break, he only trialled fair, but Geoff has got him back to this level,"he said.
Butcher himself was lucky to be his partner. He got "both barrels" from a youngster earlier in the week, and feared he had broken his left leg. He was relieved of such anxieties by his doctor, and has since laboured on in some discomfort and pain.
Small had his own concerns as he tightened Elsu up for the Derby. "He became muscle-sore after he came back in after racing at Auckland. I could see how it happened. He did the damage skidding up to the fences before I brought him back in, and he was sore over the back. Clare McGowan has done a wonderful job using the machines on him, and Dave McGowan has carried on with the massage since we've been down in Christchurch." he said.
It is possible Elsu will campaign next in Australia, with the preludes for the New South Wales Derby on May 9 in mind for him.
Many of the owners of Elsu were on-course to enjoy the occasion, none more so than Joyce Walters, Geoff's aunty, who originally bought him as a yearling for $32,000 and now owns half of him. The rest is owned by the Double Up Syndicate, of eight sharholders, the estate of Dave Hudson and Pat Small, Geoff's mother. "I was a bit hesitant for a start, knowing there'd be eight or nine other people involved who I didn't know. But it's been brilliant. We've all had so much fun,I'd do it again," she said
Credit: Mike Grainger writing in NZHR Weekly
The Free-For-All always loomed as a two-horse war and a battle of tactics, and it delivered, apart from the small matter of Jagged Account splitting Jack Cade and Elsu after making his own luck at the start to trail.
Jack Cade has always been seen in his best light when allowed to bowl along, as opposed to the sprint home which developed in the Cup, and Purdon made sure he was going to be able to dictate terms by wresting the lead through the swift first quarter as Elsu worked around three-wide with the live cover of Sly Flyin to face a stiff breeze from the 1400m.
After a brief respite in the pace, David Butcher and Elsu turned up the heat, but Jack Cade came home in two quarters of 28.1 to complete the 2000m in a 1:56.6 mile rate to win comfortably in the end. This was well outside the record 1:54.9 speed that it took Yulestar to catch Young Rufus last year, but it was ample consolation after only getting wound up when it was all over in the Cup.
Elsu was two lengths away shading an equally game Sly Flyin; All Hart again performed with credit for fifth and Gracious Knight showed something like his best form by beating the rest in. These included a luckless Young Rufus, who was squeezed and galloped after 400m, and Annie's Boy, who was retired after finishing last.
Credit: Frank Marrion writing in NZHR Weekly
When it comes to winning Group races with young horses in this era, few do as well and none do better than Geoff Small. He has a piercing accuracy to zero in on such events, and that's what he did with Copper Beach in the $100,000 Wayne Francis Memorial NZ Oaks.
Not among the hot fancies, not even among the warm ones, yet Copper Beach raced under her odds to win the classic by nearly two lengths from That's Life Lavra who came from the back with Imagine That. Neither got the sweet trip David Butcher gave Copper Beach.
He dreamed of a run behind Petousa just off the pace an got it. Princess Alberta made it a race for the stayers, and those around her gradually dropped off, with the exception of Copper Beach. She was full of chirp when she came off Petousa's back on the corner, and quickly turned it into a clear advantage.
"She was cruising it when I came into the corner," said Butcher. "She's always been a nice filly, and she's got a bit of bottom to her like some of the other Beach Towels in Geoff's team. And it's the first decent run she's had for a while."
Copper Beach is raced by the Les Girls No.2 Syndicate, which includes Edith Margison, from Manurewa, Annette Hudson (Pukekohe), Sharn Riley (Papakura), Joyce Walters (Waiuku), Geoff's wife Aria, and Helen Hobson from Christchurch. They bred Elsu as well as Copper Beach, who is from a Payson's Brother half-sister to the dam of Elsu. The mare Les Payzen Star has also left a 2-year-old filly by Holmes Hanover and a yearling colt by Dream Away, and was served this season by Falcon Seelster.
Credit: Mike Grainger writing in NZHR Weekly