David Butcher drives pole-marker King Of Swing in Tuesday's G1 Sires Stakes Final at Addington. Photo: Trish Dunell
It’s not often David Butcher doesn’t have a clear idea in his head of how he expects a race to pan out when he is driving one of the favourites.
But that’s the case at Addington tomorrow in the Group 1 $170,000 Sires Stakes Final for three-year-old colts and geldings.
Butcher drives King Of Swing for Pukekohe trainer Ray Green and the combination, which was successful in the Australasian Breeders Crown in August, have drawn the ace.
Ordinarily drawing one over the 1950-metre sprint at Addington is a blessing, but in a race like the Sires Stakes Final, which is packed with talent, that can often not be the case.
A charge of the light brigade off the mobile means a guaranteed early burn for King Of Swing and then Butcher has to decide if he wants to hand up, and if so who to, because he might soon find himself three or even four back on the markers.
So, he is going out with an open mind.
“I’ll probably just take it as it comes.
“I’ll just get out as good as a I can and see what the rest of them are doing.
“There is probably half a dozen that could come out if they want to.
“And it’s impossible trying to work anything out because I have no idea what they’re going to do.
“It will depend on who comes looking.
“One is usually a good draw but I’m trying to figure out if it’s actually a bad draw in this race.
“At least we will be on the fence, railing, because it can be hard work trying to get around them on a hot speed.”
Butcher says King Of Swing will suit a hard pace and is well-prepared for an equine ‘street fight’.
“The way I expect the race to go, that style will suit him – going hard.”
So, which of the plethora of good horses he faces tomorrow does Butcher respect the most?
“I think there is eight in there that are as good as each other.
“Spankem is probably the one to beat but the question is how much has he improved since his last run?
“Alta Maestro may have the most gate speed and I would expect he’ll come forward too.”
“The more you think about it, the harder it becomes because you just don’t know whether they’re going to keep coming or not.”
If Butcher and King Of Swing can’t defy their attackers throughout the race and are a spent force at any point down the straight, he will be looking to his right and hoping to see the blue and white chequers of Steve Telfer storming down the outside.
His son, Benjamin, will be having his first Group 1 drive in the race behind the second northern heat winner.
He’s drawn the second line, but Butcher thinks it might actually play in to Benjamin’s hands.
“He might be a little bit more favourable than me because if we go to war up top, and he gets sucked through, it could be his day for glory.”
As you’d expect, there’s been some friendly joshing going on between father and son.
“I was just trying to wind him up before, actually.
“He’ll be alright; we’ve been doing a bit of talking about his options.
“I told him to enjoy it, to soak it up.
“It’s the biggest crowd he’s driven in front of.
“It’s a great day.”