By Jonny Turner
A fit, healthy and sound Heavyweight Hero will test his mettle against the New Zealand’s best trotters in the Basil Dean Free-For-All at Addington on Friday night.
The formerly injury plagued squaregaiter will clash again with Majestic Man after running home stylishly in to second behind the Oamaru trotter a fortnight ago.
That run was an important stepping stone towards Heavyweight Hero having a clear shot at some of the country’s best races for the first time.
Injuries have previously prevented the former Todd MacFarlane seven-year-old trained more than the occasional tilt at them.
“At the moment – touch wood – he is sound and this is about the first time he has had a proper go at the good races because he has always had problems,” driver Bob Butt said.
“His feet are really good at the moment and hopefully we can keep him right through to cup week.”
Butt knows the enormity of the task in front of his horse on Friday night – to turn the tables on Majestic Man and down Interdominion winner Winterfell.
But stepping up to 2600m when drawn inside the two favourites, there is no better chance for Heavyweight Hero to test them.
“2600m will suit him down to the ground and he is fitter for that last run, he has come on a bit since then,” Butt said.
“He can get out of the gate pretty good, but I will just have to see how things pan out at the start.”
“Winterfell and Majestic Man are the benchmark and they are going to be hard to beat.”
“But, he should go a good race.”
Butt also drives Minstrel in race 6, which features an exciting clash of intermediate grade pacers over 2600m under handicap conditions.
The four-year-old, trained by his parents David and Catherine, ran a good second behind Italian Lad in his first start for the season in the Kurow Cup.
“It was a good run, we were pretty happy with him,” Butt said.
“It was just the way the race was run, they only really sprinted the last 400m.”
“He seems to have come through it good and he should be better for the run on Friday night.”
Minstrel has the advantage of starting on the front line, with a headstart on his main rivals Wild Excuse (10m), Heisenberg (20m), and Franco Niven (20m).
Butt drives Doff Your Cap, who clashes with Muscle Mountain in another exciting middle grade event on Friday night.
The Greg and Nina Hope trained Muscle Mountain was an emphatic winner in his for first start since February.
Driver Ben Hope said the 4yr-old has thrived since his front-running win.
“He has come through it really well and we a pretty happy with him.”
Muscle Mountain races a similar kind of field, but gives most of them a headstart from the 20m back mark.
The trotter has the game to handle racing behind runners if Hope has to drive him differently this week in race 9.
“He is pretty versatile, so I don’t think it would be a problem.”
“He still has a little bit to learn, he got a bit keen last time, but he is a pretty smart horse.”