Mah Sish takes out Hunter Cup

BIG OCCASION: Mah Sish with Anthony Butt, left, and his brother Tim after Saturday night’s A$400,000 Hunter Cup in Melbourne
BIG OCCASION: Mah Sish with Anthony Butt, left, and his brother Tim after Saturday night’s A$400,000 Hunter Cup in Melbourne

Courageous gelding Mah Sish gave reinsman Anthony Butt his seventh Hunter Cup success in Melbourne on Saturday night.

Mah Sish was in outstanding form, setting the pace and withstanding challenges to hold on by a head from former Southlander Jaccka Clive in the A$400,000 Group I event at TABCorp Park Melton.

''We couldn't get in early, so we worked to the lead,'' Butt, of Christchurch, said yesterday.

''There was constant pressure throughout and when I pulled the plugs at the 400m, I wasn't confident. Round the turn we were battling, but so were the others. He kept going.''

Butt's other Hunter Cup wins have been with Choise Achiever (last year), Stunin Cullen (2011), Mr Feelgood (2009), Mister D G (2004) and Blossom Lady (1994-95).

His brother Tim, who has stables in Christchurch and Melbourne, trains Mah Sish and Choise Achiever and earlier prepared Stunin Cullen, Mr Feelgood and Mister D G.

The Butts' grandfather, Derek Jones, trained the mighty mare Blossom Lady.

Mah Sish flies to Sydney on Thursday to prepare for a heat of the Interdominion at Menangle on Saturday week. The A$750,000 Interdominion Grand Final is held on the course on March 3.

Tim Butt said the final could be Mah Sish's last race for the season.

''There's the Auckland Cup (March 8) and Miracle Mile (April 28) coming up, but I'm pretty happy where we're at with him and I don't want to bottom him out,'' Tim Butt said.

Mah Sish's gutsy win on Saturday night left him a bit tired on Sunday, but he appeared to be back to normal yesterday.

Butt was told of Mah Sish's potential by Canterbury horseman Mark Jones in 2011. Jones had been driving the gelding and after the combination's victory in a four to six-wins mobile at Addington on New Zealand Cup Day in November 2011, Butt's interest in the horse increased.

Mah Sish won that race in 2:19.9 (1950m mobile), a mile rate of 1:55.4, after being wide without cover or parked from the 1200m. Clients of Butt bought Mah Sish out of Dean Taylor's Christchurch stable a month later.

His fourth in the New Zealand Cup in November served as a pointer to better things to come.

Ohoka Punter, trained and driven by Auckland horseman Tony Herlihy and owned in North Canterbury by Katie Carville, won the A$200,000 Victoria Derby on Saturday night.

Mark Purdon's two winners at Melton on Saturday were My Escapee (Group III Glenferrie Farm Melton Trotters' Cup) and Smolda (A$25,000 free-for-all). The horseman and Dr Hook went under by half a head in the Group I Australasian Trotting Championship Final.

Dr Hook was beaten by Mister Zion, a dual gaited gelding, who won two of six starts as a pacer for Christchurch trainer-driver Jim Curtin in early 2009. Mister Zion was exported to Australia in May 2009.

He won the Group I South Australia Cup at Adelaide in 2010, with grand campaigner Smoken Up finishing second.

The Southland Times