Business as usual for Butt after his filly impresses at Cambridge
It was a stoic David Butt who went about his business at the stabling area at Cambridge yesterday.
There was no sign of excitement, despite that his two-year-old trotting filly Habibti had just turned in one of the most compelling leadup performances for Saturday's Gr I $150,000 Mitre 10 Mega Cambridge Ruby 2yo Trot (1609m) at yesterday's Harness Jewels workouts.
Rather, it was a man impassively tending to his horses, tidying his gear, getting all his ducks in a row.
Yes, Love You two-year-old filly Habibti had just blitzed her rivals in a 1700m mobile trot workout by six lengths.
But the big prize was six days down the track, and if she repeated the dose then, just maybe Butt might reveal a smile.
''She's been going well all season. She's got a bad draw but you never know,'' Butt said afterwards.
Habibti, whom Butt trains in partnership with his wife Catherine, is a form trotter but she will need to over an unfavourable draw of four on the second line if she is to add to her Gr III New Zealand Trotting Stakes win at Addington last month in Saturday's feature.
''We'll try and go through them and hope we get the run. But I will get up there at some point,'' said Butt, who also drives Habibti on Saturday.
''It's going to make it a bit more demanding with that second-row draw and there's a lot of good two-year-old trotters about.''
Since her Trotting Stakes win, Habibti has narrowly gone down in two starts at Addington, last time behind Sheemon in the Gr II Sires' Stakes 2yo Trotting Championships.
Overall her 10 starts have yielded two wins, five second placings and three thirds.
Butt had her in third spot early before moving up to sit outside leader Mollyz Luck with a lap to run and then pouncing 500m from home and quickly putting the heat beyond doubt.
The Brian Macey-trained Prime Power ran on for second but was never a chance of running down Habibti, while Mollyz Luck weakened into third, giving Cambridge trainer Sean McCaffrey a headache six days out from the filly's prime target.
He made no bones about the performance being disappointing.
''She went awful, but she has done that before and raced well at her next start,'' McCaffrey said.
''As soon as she decided she was beaten, that was it. Hopefully we can turn her around.''
Last-start Alexandra Park winner Paramount Queen was last night the $4 favourite for the two-year-old trot, ahead of Habibti at $4.20 and Prime Power at $4.80, with Mollyz Luck on the seventh line of betting at $21.
McCaffrey was more upbeat about his two-year-old pacing filly La Norvic De Milo, who was fourth in her heat behind the Cran Dalgety-trained Abraxas, the Butt-trained Opulent and the Gareth Dixon-trained Can't Teach That.
''She went very good. Very happy with that,'' McCaffrey said.
''I didn't want her to do too much. They are pretty even those fillies and whoever gets the best run might win.''
La Norvic De Milo has drawn barrier two on the second line and follows out Can't Teach That, with Opulent drawn on that filly's immediate outside in barrier three.
Opulent heads the market at $3.60, ahead of Delightful Christian at $3.80, Onlyforyou at $4.50 and Rozelski at $5. La Norvic De Milo is at $9, with Can't Teach That at $21.
Tandias Bromac, a $17 shot in the same race, impressed winning a non-winners heat for driver Peter Ferguson, while Onlyforyou won her non-winners heat for driver Dexter Dunn, with Rozelski fourth in that heat.
Butt was pleased with Opulent's performance.
''She went well. The colt [Abraxas] was too good for us but I'm pleased with my two,'' said Butt, who will also take outside drives on the Paul Nairn-trained Lotalov, a $2.40 favourite in the Gr I Ruby 3yo Trot, and the Mark Jones-trained Holme Fire, in the Diamond 3yo Pace.
Abraxas was last night an $8 joint third favourite for the Gr I $150,000 SkyCity Hamilton Emerald 2yo Pace with Mighty Flying Mac and Border Patrol, behind Five Card Draw at $2.20 and Alta Christiano at $3.50.
Dunn said of Abraxas: ''It was a good run. It's not really the draw we want [four on the second line] but we're happy with his run today.''
Dalgety said he expected both Abraxas and Onlyforyou to go well.
The Greg and Nina Hope-trained Donaldson, driven by McCaffrey, won the four or more-wins mobile trot, defeating Mo Hahn and Fire In The Night, rivals in Saturday's Mitre 10 Mega Cambridge Ruby 4yo Trot.
The trio are long in the market for Saturday's feature, in which Thaneson is a $3 favourite ahead of Irish Whisper, who was yesterday backed in from $4.50 to $3.50 after a $7000 win bet.