Driver will be out for six months after injuring himself while jogging two horses at home.

Champion reinsman David Butcher is likely to miss six months in the sulky after the worst possible diagnosis following a trackwork injury.

Butcher has pulled his pectoral muscle away from the bone and will require surgery to reattach it and then a lengthy healing period before he can drive in races again.

So the Cambridge horseman has basically written the rest of the season off.

He suffered the injury while jogging two horses at home last week, one in the sulky, the other on a lead rope.


"The leader pulled back and then stopped in his tracks and I didn't let go of him fast enough," said Butcher.

"I knew straight away something pretty bad had happened but hoped it was only a tear and that I'd be back in a month.

"But it has come away from the bone and while I can keep driving, it won't heal without an operation and I won't be able to do any lifting or heaps of the other things I do around the stables.

"So I will bite the bullet and get the operation done as soon as possible."

While disappointed to be facing such a long stint on the sidelines, Butcher admits it could have been worse.

A similar injury at almost any other time in the past decade could have cost him career-defining wins behind the likes of Elsu, Changeover or De Lovely, to mention just a few of the champions he has partnered to group one success on both sides of the Tasman.

"But at the moment I am not driving too many big-race winning chances, it is just the way it has fallen.

"And last year I was lucky enough to represent New Zealand at the World champs in France, and I would have hated to miss that.

"But I'm still not looking forward to being away from racing for so long, especially because it is not my choice."

Butcher isn't the only New Zealand harness star out for the season, with top trotting mare Habibti off to the paddock and set to miss over $900,000 worth of races in the next three months.

A group one winner this season after dominating her age group on both sides of the Tasman last term, Habibti trotted below her best in defeat at Addington last Friday.

That has convinced co-trainer David Butt to spell the 4-year-old and turn down his invitation to the A$200,000 Glenferrie Farm Challenge in Sydney on March 2 as well as the A$350,000 Great Southern Star at Melton three weeks later.

However, New Zealand will have two big chances in another Melton classic this Saturday, with Our Maxim and Our Sky Major in the A$200,000 Victoria Derby.

The Barry Purdon-trained pair drew perfectly in the classic, Our Maxim at barrier one and his stablemate on his back and possibly set to get the perfect trail.

And the race pans out even better for the Auckland pair as pre-draw hot favourite Bling It On has drawn the outside of the front line.