Racing: Vulcan will be given a chance to shine on world stage

By Michael Guerin

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

Vulcan may get a shot at the world's best trotters, simply because he isn't that good.

If that sounds confusing, you are not alone. Even trainer Tim Butt laughs at the strange situation the tiny trotter finds himself in.

Vulcan, who at best might be New Zealand's third-best trotter, dominated Saturday night's inaugural Great Southern Star series at Melton, winning his heat and final in effortless style.

That means he has won four group one races in 15 days and eight in his career, remarkable for a horse who looks more like a skinny pit pony than a superstar.

Just four weeks ago he wasn't even rated in the top six trotters in New Zealand, missing a spot in the Kiwi team for the Glenferrie Farm Challenge.

After a summer battling for form and full health, Vulcan turned the corner a fortnight ago and that, coupled with injuries and problems for I Can Doosit and Stig, has made him the horse of the moment.

Which leaves Butt and his mother, Jenny, who owns half of Vulcan, to make a decision that would have seemed ludicrous to even consider a few weeks ago.

Vulcan is likely to be invited to Sweden to take on the world's best trotters in the Elitlopp in May, a series which mirrors Saturday night's heats and final format.

The only problem is the Elitlopp trotters are the best in the world and Vulcan isn't world class. Which might be exactly why he makes the trip.

"If he gets invited we will definitely think about it," said Butt.

"Because the irony with him is that we are not giving up as much to go.

"When we took Lyell Creek there 12 years ago we knew we were giving up winning everything at home, the Rowe Cups, Dominions and everything else.

"Whereas Vulcan could win those races but would be no good thing in them. So it costs us less in lost opportunities to go.

"And we love a trip away. Sure, he probably couldn't go there and win but he wouldn't disgrace himself and maybe Mum will be keen too because these chances don't come along that often in life."

Butt knows Vulcan isn't a great trotter because he has trained two of our best ever - Lyell Creek and Take A Moment - as well as owning Stig, who lost his chance on Saturday night with an early gallop.

"Vulcan is not as good as any of those other three and he obviously isn't as good as I Can Doosit. But he would be a good horse to travel with because he has the manners and the temperament for the trip.

"And he doesn't trot quite as well right-handed so the Rowe Cup [May] isn't that big a lure for us."

Vulcan's win was a triumph for soundness and timing as well as some great unofficial co-training from Paul Nairn. "Paul has been looking after the horse the last few weeks and walking him at a fast clip for four kilometres every afternoon.

"I think that has helped his tying up problems so he deserves some credit for this win too."

So, too, does Butt's brother Anthony, who drove another perfect race to add to his amazing record in Victoria's best races.

While the Butt family were basking in the glory of winning the first running of what will develop into one of Australasia's great races, racing's brutal reality soon bit back for Tim.

He owns 83 per cent of Stig and was disappointed when he galloped early when he had a chance of running to the front. He soon found out why, with the veteran badly lame in his near fore in the stabling area.

The other Kiwis in the final raced tired, with Sovereignty adequate at best, while The Fiery Ginga was fantastic in his heat and looked exhausted in the final.

- NZ Herald

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