Racing: Scandinavians head to NZ

By Michael Guerin

Butt brothers importing three trotters this winter to see how they rate in Australasia.

Anthony Butt was impressed by the Swedish trotters when campaigning Lyell Creek. Photo / Paul Estcourt
Anthony Butt was impressed by the Swedish trotters when campaigning Lyell Creek. Photo / Paul Estcourt

Scandinavian trotters are set to follow Europe's gallopers in a high-end Australasian invasion.

While the first assault may be small, leading horseman Anthony Butt believes it could be just the tip of the iceberg.

Butt and his brother Tim are importing three Scandinavian trotters this winter to be syndicated as a package deal.

The brothers have wanted to try that move since being impressed by the depth of Europe's best trotters when campaigning Lyell Creek in Sweden in 2001.

Now, inspired by many of Australia's leading thoroughbred trainers importing European stayers, the Butts say the time is right.

"Anybody who has been up there is stunned by how good their best trotters are," said Anthony Butt.

"But they are very hard to buy so getting the good ones has been the issue.

"But we have finally got a serious one we can buy, plus a couple of real up-and-comers, so we are bringing them down as a package deal.

"You see how guys like Chris Waller are going with the French gallopers and you realise they can acclimatise and then get back to their best form. So if you can make the numbers work it is worth trying."

The best French and Swedish trotters regularly trot times more in line with our top pacers, especially over the staying trips.

As an example, the best-performed of the trio the Butts are importing is Peak, who won the Denmark Derby as a 4-year-old in a 2:00 mile rate for 3000m, a time which only Stig or I Can Doosit would approach among our open-class trotters. "Peak is a really good horse and our people are telling us he could do really big things down here," said Anthony.

"And the time is right. The stakes for trotters here are very strong, while in Australia there are new races like the Great Southern Star (A$400,000) and the Glenferrie Farm Challenge (A$2 million)."

Those new races mean a good open-class trotter can race for $3 million in Australasia a season and they tend to be among the hardiest of elite-level racehorses, often racing until they are 10-year-olds.

The trio are heading to France before entering quarantine in mid-August with a view to racing here by Christmas, just in time for the Alexandra Park features.

"We are putting them together as a package deal of eight shares and five have already sold," said Butt.

If the gamble pays off it could become more regular, with high-class Northern Hemisphere trotters even coming Downunder to race and then stay on, either being sold as racehorses or breeding propositions.

The trio are not the only big names on the shopping list as the proactive stable is also in the throes of buying Jewels runner-up Pass Them By.

Anthony Butt trialled him at Pukekohe last week and liked what he felt, comparing him to Hunter Cup winner Mah Sish.

Pass Them By was the most improved northern pacer of the autumn and finished second to Christen Me in his Jewels division.

- NZ Herald

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