By Duane Ranger
One of Australia’s leading trainers should kick more goals at Albion Park on Saturday night.
Logan Village horseman, Jack Butler, who is eighth on the national training premiership, and fourth locally, especially likes the Chris Geary-driven Zaras Delight in the fifth event - the $15,000 Jack Waltisbuhl Memorial Band 5 Pace.
“One is the perfect draw for her. She’s performed very well in her last two starts from worse draws (seven and nine). I’m confident she will go well,” Butler said.
Hayden Barnes took the Rock N Roll Heaven mare off the mobile arm and settled last when they won at Albion Park two starts ago (Friday March 22).
He then managed slotted her into the three-back and one-out position down the back straight the last time.
The opposition went hard that day and Zaras Delight loomed four-wide on the turn and won by an increasing 2.9m. Her mile rate was a slick 1:55 flat
It was the 6-year-old's 19th win in 78 starts. She then followed that up with a gutsy third on the same track eight days later. Brendan Barnes drove her that night.
Geary will drive her for the first time on Saturday.
Zaras Delight is the $5.50 fixed odds second favourite behind the Narissa McMullen trained and driven Tom Me Gun. That Courage Under Fire gelding, who is the $3.30 favourite, is vying for his fourth win in five starts.
He has drawn awkwardly at one on the second row.
“The draw really counts this time. Her last two runs have been super, and she’s come through them well. She would be the best of my five chances on Saturday night,” Butler said.
The 42-year-old works a team of between 35 and 40 and has trained 76 winners in 2018-2019. Last year he won 110 times.
“The goal is always to get 100 and then ultimately beat my own personal best of about 120. The season is going along really nicely and we are hitting all targets at this stage.
“The team is fit and I think the reason we are doing so well is because we have a better standard of stock, and horses are able to go through the grades,” said Butler.
“I don’t have any real stable star as such, but I have a lot of well-grade horses who are progressive types. Having a good team around me helps. Brendan (Barnes) worked for me before he went away to Sydney, and now I believe he’s come back a better driver and horseman for it.”
Butler thought he might be in for a good night on Saturday. Here’s what he had to say about his five other pacers that he’s lining up at Queensland’s harness racing headquarters:
Race 4: CASINO TOMMY (7) - Chris Geary: "He has fairly consistent form in good company. It's not going to be easy from seven though. He will need the race driven upside down to win. If that happens he can get over the top of them." Odds: $26.
Race 5: LUCIFERS LEGEND (7) - Madi Dux: "He has the concession-claim driver on him and he does have gait speed, but I think I'll talk to the owners first and see what they think. He's capable but from the draw I think his stablemate (Zaras Delight) is a better prospect in this." Odds: $16.
Race 6: MANDY KRIDEN (1) - Chris Geary: "She finally gets a good draw but she's missed a couple of week's work recently. She's getting better all the time and from the ace she should make her presence felt. She's a top mare when spot on." Odds: $6.
Race 9: LEXUS ON THE BEACH (2) - Chris Geary: "He's a tough gelding but does lack a bit of early speed. I can't fault his form and two isn't a bad draw. He's not far off a win." Opened up $2.50 favourite.