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Townsville Cup trial continues for Cleo's Poet

By Glenn Davis

Cleo’s Poet - the horse that brought veteran trainer Terry Butts out of retirement - will continue his quest to give the former journalist his second Townsville Cup winner.

Butts, 77, retired several years ago after a distinguished career in the racing industry before the training bug returned to bite him.

Cleo’s Poet – who tackles the Open Handicap over 1609 metres at Cluden Park on Thursday - was one of the first horses Butts took over in his comeback and will be out to redeem himself after a last start second to Best Hoffa at Townsville on July 6.

The rising seven-year-old – a Nathan Day mount – fought back strongly when it appeared he was gone, to just go under by less than one length.

“I think this horse is back to his best now but this is a hard race and I think 1600 metres is his best distance,” Butts said.

“He’ll run tomorrow then in a qualifying race for the Townsville Cup at the end of the month which will decide whether he goes to the Townsville Cup.

“I’m not holding my breath about him making the Townsville Cup but he’s a good eachway chance tomorrow.”

Cleo's Poet

Butts was recently discharged from hospital after being badly hurt in a stable accident.

“I was holding the only other horse I train when it decided to go out the gate,” he said.

“He pulled away and struck me and I ended up in hospital for 12 weeks and had to have a hip replacement.”

A former bookmaker and journalist, Butts has won most of the Cup races in North Queensland including the Townsville Cup with Gift Man in 1991.

He also has claimed the Bowen, Home Hill, Gordonvale, Ingham, Atherton and Cairns Cups as well as two Cairns Amateur Cups and two Townsville Amateur Cups.

Butts started his journalism career as a cadet at the Border Mail in Albury before eventually making his way to Hong Kong where he worked over a long period for four English newspapers.

Among his other achievements, Butts was the first English speaking race caller in Hong Kong.

“I retired from training but I got bored a few years ago so I decided to give it another go,” Butts said.

“I was a former bookmaker but the day Vintage Crop won the Melbourne Cup was my last day.”