By Ray Hickson
A special moment awaits Albury trainer Norm Loy if in-form galloper Butler Butler can hand him his biggest win, and a decent dilemma to go with it, at Wagga Wagga on Sunday.
Butler Butler is part of the reason Loy returned to the training ranks after a break of more than six years and was the first runner of his comeback in July last year.
Loy says he basically lost interest in racing and went to work building silos and working for Harvey Norman, which he still does now on a part-time basis, among a number of gigs.
He said he didn’t want to do train half-heartedly but when some friends asked him to take on the four-year-old he eventually came around to the idea.
“I wasn’t really interested a lot, I kept away from the horses, but about 12 months ago a couple of mates said they had a few horses and would I like to have a go at training them,’’ he said.
“Butler Butler was one of them. I’m a person that if I’m doing things half way I’m not interested.
“I thought if I was going to do it I’d do it right and really get into it.’’
Butler Butler initially went into Loy’s wife Natalie’s care before he obtained his licence again and he has collected about $68,000 in prizemoney for his owners since they took over.
Loy says he’s still in a rebuilding phase with 13 in work, some yearlings about to come in and five mares in foal.
And he's quite bullish about the gelding’s chances in Sunday’s $150,000 SDRA Country Championships Qualifier (1400m), where he opened an $11 chance with TAB.
“I think I’m a very big chance of taking it out,’’ Loy said.
“He’s a proven 1400m horse, he’s drawn quite well and he’s very strong at the finish. If it becomes a dogfight he’s always in for the fight.’’
The gelding was an impressive winner over the 1400m at Albury on February 16 and Loy had originally pencilled in the Tom Patton Cup on Sunday’s program over the 1800m as a stepping stone to the Albury Gold Cup (2000m) on March 23.
But a rousing gallop on Tuesday morning changed his mind and he’s elected to stick to the shorter trip for now.
“His gallop was enough to show he has a bit of zip left in him. I thought we might as well have a crack at the Championships,’’ he said.
“You’re going into a restricted race and it made sense to go this avenue, the 1400m then into a 1600m and into the Albury Cup.’’
If Butler Butler runs up to Loy’s expectations then come Sunday night he might have a bit of a problem on his hands as the $500,000 Country Championships Final (1400m) is run two weeks after the Albury Cup.
Butler Butler proves too strong at Albury on February 16
Even if he finishes first or second, he said his aim is still his hometown Cup but is keeping an open mind.
“You never rule anything out. It’s like I never ruled out the Championships, I always had it in my mind we were going to the Tom Patton but I never ruled this race out,’’ he said.
“He puts himself there, he’s pulled up well, he’s feeling well and he’s a very good chance.’’
Earlier on the Wagga Wagga card, Loy has high hopes for a breakthrough win by Waiting For A Mate in the Tarcoola Turf Plate (1200m).
The three-year-old has had three starts for two placings and Loy was buoyed by jockey Mathew Cahill’s eagerness to take the ride when he inquired last Friday.
“Brodie (Norm’s son) was very unlucky at the Sapphire Coast on him and said he wouldn’t get beaten next time,’’ he said.
“Unfortunately we got beaten but only went down a nose and beat the rest by five. I rang Mathew and asked him to ride and he didn’t need to look at the form, saying he wouldn’t get a better ride in the race.’’