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Herald Sun Form Guide : February 2nd 2013
32 Herald Sun, Saturday, February 2, 2013 heraldsun + + PAGE 32 DHS 2-FEB-2013 FIRST C M YK BREAKING NEWS I LATEST SCO HARNESS RACING HUNTER CUP Mah, we're making Butt boys dream of another victory JASON BONNINGTON '' We obviously target the race each year. It's a great race and it seems to suit the Kiwi horses. ANTHONY BUTT B LACKS A Fake's breathtaking win in the 2008 Hunter Cup stands out on the cup's honour roll for two reasons. The first is that Natalie Rasmussen's legendary pacer became just the second horse to win Australia's richest har- ness handicap off a 30m mark. The second is that ''Blackie's'' triumph was the last time a surname not ''Butt'' was inscribed on the 63-year-old trophy. In 2010, it was David Butt and his frontrunner Bondy who snared the last Hunter Cup staged at Moonee Valley. On the other three occasions, it was David's cousins Anthony (driver) and Tim (trainer) who won the prize; three Butts in four years and four times in nine for the Christchurch siblings. Tonight they are essentially expatriates, with Tim based at Melton since late last year. With stable star and last- start Ballarat Cup winner Mah Sish equal Hunter Cup favourite, the Butt domi- nance is set to continue. ''We obviously target the race each year. It's a great race and it seems to suit the Kiwi horses,'' Anthony Butt said. ''Normally they've had a lot of practice at the standing start and we've got a lot of races over the two-mile journey so it only makes sense that we often compete well. ''Tim's also got that gift of finding a horse and setting it for this race, which is why our record looks so great in recent years. ''Even if I had never won it, I'd still love it though. It's a truly great race, the sort of race the top guys want to be part of.'' Tim's training history in the Hunter Cup is exemplary and, if anything, Anthony's driving dossier is even better. In 1994, Anthony, then 28, won his first Hunter Cup crown aboard Blossom Lady, one of the greatest mares in Australasian harness history. A year later he and Blossom Lady returned to win again, this time off 30m. Since then Mister DG, Mr Feelgood, Stunin Cullen and Choise Achiever have helped Butt to a Hunter Cup record. Anthony Butt says Mah Sish --- which loosely trans- lates as moon ice --- reminds him of a courageous dual New Zealand Cup winner. ''He has actually got a little bit of Flashing Red in him,'' he said. ''I'm not saying he's at that stage yet, but without making extravagant state- ments, he's heading in the same direction. ''He's got that same ability to control a race and then turn it into a grind, which is a great attribute to have at the top level. ''Perhaps he's a Flashing Red with a bit more speed. ''He mightn't be quite as tough as Flashing Red --- very few are --- but he can also reel off a quarter and break his rivals' hearts.'' That capacity to outstay and out-muscle top-class opposition was never more evident than in last week's Ballarat Cup. A bridesmaid at Group 1 level despite admirable efforts in the NZ and Victoria Cups, Mah Sish finally broke the shackles. As awesome as that victory was --- Mah Sish travelled three-wide for the final 800m and defeated two of Aus- tralia's greatest pacers --- it was only his preliminary final. His grand final, the $400,000 race seen as the Melbourne Cup of trots, is tonight. Butt said the stars were aligned. ''This is Mah Sish's first year on the Grand Circuit against the big boys,'' he said. ''I was really pleased with the way he went in the New Zealand Cup but he's definitely gone up another level since then. ''When horses like him get to the Grand Circuit, some step up and some go missing. If you're lucky enough to find one that steps up like he has, you know you're in for an exciting ride. ''He's a different horse from our last couple of Hunter Cup winners. ''Stunin Cullen was a great juvenile who had some hic- cups but when he came back was a real high-speed horse, whereas this horse's strength is just how tough he is. ''Choise Achiever was a bit of a journeyman. . . but this bloke is brave and can make his own luck. ''To sit outside Smoken Up and Sushi Sushi, who are two of the best horses in Australia, and to hunt them down and beat them in the Ballarat Cup was a hell of an effort really. ''He's definitely peaking at the right time, but Tim's to blame for that.'' Standing in the way of the Butt brothers in their bid for a Hunter Cup hat-trick is their brother-in-law Cran Dalgety, plus a host of high- class Australian talent. Dalgety prepares rising star Four Starzzz Flash while co- favourite Caribbean Blaster, McCarthy pair Terrorway and Mach Alert and dual Kilmore Cup winner Bitobliss are all legitimate threats. But with just one Hunter Cup between them, the teams behind those stars will won- der if they can beat the Butts? ''So many things need to go right to win a Hunter Cup,'' Butt said. ''As great as some of the mobile features are, this race is greater. It's the ulti- mate test of horse and horse- man and for some reason we just know how to win it.'' Good value: John Justice say long Derby odds are ''numb
February 1st 2013
February 4th 2013