Australasian Grand Circuit
Stories:   Pacers 2006/2007 Season
Leg 12:  Trillian Trust Auckland Cup   2006/2007 Results   Points
                9/03/2007  Alexandra Park, Auckland, NZ  2700m  Mobile Start  $NZ400,000
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Flashing Red again the bravest of all

by Michael Guerin

This article was first published in New Zealand Harness Racing Weekly, 14 March 2007, and is reproduced here with permission.

For three Canterbury harness racing boys, nothing in racing can top winning the New Zealand Trotting Cup.

But last Friday night went pretty close.

When Flashing Red smashed the national record and broke some hearts in the $400,000 Trillian Trust Auckland Cup, he completed New Zealand racing's greatest double.

Both victories, at Alexandra Park and Addington, were displays of power pacing, ruthless and awe-inspiring.

Yet for trainers Tim Butt and Phil Anderson and driver Anthony Butt, last Friday's win was as satisfying as November's for a very different reason.

Because when the ever-analytical Tim sat down to look back on this Auckland Cup, he admitted this was a harder race to win.

"Going into the New Zealand Cup he was perfect," said Butt.


Flashing Red

"We had had him a while, he was racing awesome and I thought if he didn't have any bad luck he'd win.

"But this was different."

This time Flashing Red had only been back in the Butt/Anderson stable for a month, and that had followed three luckless and sometimes troublesome months in Australia, during which time he only won one race.

He was also heading to Alexandra Park, where he has never won before and the depth of this Cup field, with Foreal and the trio of exceptional 4-year-olds, was considerably stronger than the New Zealand Cup.

And then there was barrier one from the mobile for a horse without gate speed, a draw which put a premium on Anthony's horsemanship skills.

All of those little doubts added up to some real doubt, which is why punters got spoiled with a $3.70 dividend on a horse whose right odds were about $2.80.

"And to be honest, a week before the race I was sure he wasn't racing as well this time for us as he was at Cup time down home.

"So to see him come out and do what he did was amazing," said Tim.

What Flashing Red did was bludgeon his rivals into submission, thanks firstly to Anthony's expertise in getting him off the markers.

He was then able to balance the 9-year-old up, launch for the front and then steady again before winding up the tempo over the last 1200 metres.

His sizzling sectionals saw those coming wide off the bit a long way from home and meant three of the first four to finish came from along the marker pegs, similar to his New Zealand Cup triumph.

By the time they hit the line in a radical 1.57.5 mile rate for the 2700m, only Classic Cullen was close enough to hear Flashing Red's hoof beats.

The time took 1.6 seconds off the record held by Two Under (1991) and Christopher Vance (1993), and exposed the vulnerability of many of our open class horses in truly-run races because so few of them are used to racing so close to the edge of their own personal envelope.

It also guaranteed Flashing Red the Horse of The Year title unless One Dream can go the rest of the season unbeaten, and even then she probably wouldn't get the high-profile votes to topple the grand old man.

But Cups, cash and titles are not all Flashing Red deserves after his incredible season.

Because not only has he transformed from former battler to racing warrior extraordinaire, but he will hopefully have a longer term affect on our racing.

Maybe somewhere in New Zealand last Friday night one trainer or driver was watching the demolition job and thought it was time he or she tried to up the ante.

Maybe somewhere the next, far less-talented Flashing Red will start to put his foot down at the bell and try and run his rivals ragged, creating more competitive racing, a better spectacle and a truer contest than those we are often handed.

Maybe, just maybe, Flashing Red showed that the fastest don't always win; sometimes it is the bravest, be it horse or driver.

If he has managed to pull that off, he will leave an impression on New Zealand harness racing that's far more important than a national record or a name on an Auckland Cup honour roll.


All Time Pacing and Trotting Records pre-2001 please refer to the Australian Harness Racing Annual.

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