Racing: Butt joins exodus to Aussie

By Michael Guerin

One of Tim Butt's happiest memories will be the 2004 Rowe Cup won by his champion Lyell Creek.Picture / Paul Estcourt
One of Tim Butt's happiest memories will be the 2004 Rowe Cup won by his champion Lyell Creek.Picture / Paul Estcourt

Champion trainer Tim Butt's return to training is set to be short lived - in this country at least.

The outstanding harness horseman is free to train again after serving a six-month disqualification for a positive swab returned by Raglan in last year's Miracle Mile.

Butt was not even looking after Raglan at the time of the positive in Sydney and while outraged at his sentence, prefers to look forward, rather than dwell on the past.

And he believes that future doesn't belong in New Zealand.

Butt plans to move to Australia next month and base himself in Victoria, with the intention of making the move permanent.

"I think it is a better fit for what I am trying to achieve," Butt told the Herald.

"There is a larger ownership base over there and better opportunities for the horses.

"Don't get me wrong, New Zealand harness racing has been great to me and I have had a lot of success and some great times.

"But I have to look at my future. Some of my bigger and more regular owners are getting older and it is hard to find new people who want to buy going horses at the level I want.

"I am also faced with racing horses here in good fields for stakes which have stagnated or taking them to Aussie to race in weaker fields for the same or better money."

Butt intends to head to Australia with stable stars Mah Sish, Vulcan, Choise Achiever and Stunin Cullen as well as some of his lower-grade horses, while still maintaining his base in Christchurch.

He will be looking for owners and new horses in Australia and says if the venture goes well that is where he sees himself living permanently.

His wife, Andrea, and young children will remain in Canterbury over the summer but could join him next year.

"That will be the tough part, being away from them but I am working on what is best for our future.

"And to be honest, it has been tough living in Canterbury the last couple of years."

Butt is one of New Zealand's elite trainers but competes head-on with other superstar trainers Mark Purdon and Cran Dalgety in Canterbury.

Once set up in Australia, he hopes he can complement those rivals.

"I know there are plenty of trainers in New Zealand who would like to send a horse or two to Australia for either a small campaign or a longer one and I want to be the go-to option for them.

"So Anthony [brother] will be in charge of the team back here and between us we will place the horses where we think they are best suited."

Butt is the trainer of two of New Zealand's greatest trotters in Lyell Creek and Take A Moment, as well as training veteran dual New Zealand Cup winner Flashing Red.

He has rarely been without a genuine Grand Circuit horse for the past 15 years and has specialised in buying going horses for his clients and turning them into open-class money machines.

Anthony will head to Australia to partner the open-class horses in their December engagements but one of Tim's first jobs will be finding a regular Australian driver.

"I want somebody who can work in as part of our team and help find horses for our owners.

"It is all a big commitment but I am keen to give it a go and home will always be here if it doesn't work out."

- NZ Herald

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