David Butt and Bondy NZ take out the 2010 Hunter Cup Photo by Stuart McCormick
Time can be your worst enemy yet at the same time it can be your best friend.
Tonight, timing was everything when giant New Zealand stayer Bondy raced into the record books by claiming the final Hunter Cup to be staged at Moonee Valley.
In front of a massive crowd, Bondy landed some huge bets by leading of all the way to take out the Gr.1 $400,000 BIG6 Hunter Cup for Davey and Catherine Butt.
It was a night fuelled by emotion, both on and off the track.
In the case of Bondy, connections felt justified.
On the eve of the New Zealand Cup last November, connections were left gutted with the scratching of their prized pacer from the country's biggest event because of a blood disorder.
Months of hard work disappeared instantly, as did the chance to win one of the biggest races on the Australasian harness racing calendar.
Connections began searching high and low for future targets, in particular, stand start staying races and the Hunter Cup loomed as an obvious goal.
David and Catherine Butt raced the clock to have Bondy ready for his Australian debut at Ballarat the week prior.
Bondy, resuming since late October crushed his rivals with a track record performance to win the Pure Steel over 2700m which proved to be the perfect foil for the Hunter Cup the following week at the farewell to racing meeting at Moonee Valley.
With 14 victories from 16 attempts under stand start conditions, Bondy was the constant with punters who invested heavily on the 8yo Live Or Die gelding.
Stepping in his usual brilliant fashion to lead from his favourable front row draw, Bondy gave his supporters little cause for concern with a fantastic front running drive by Davey Butt.
Bondy left the lead time behind him in 1.55 minutes whilst both Smoken Up and Bettors Strike challenged on his outside.
The first half of the final mile was covered in 30.6 and 29.1 seconds, Bondy travelled strongly whilst Smoken Up raced up three wide to apply more pressure.
Heading into the back straight for the final time, the pressure was intense with Bondy, Bettors Strike and Smoken Up racing three abreast whilst Karloo Mick sat contently on the back of Bondy in a 28.5 third quarter.
Before the home turn, Butt kicked away with Bondy as Bettors Strike and Smoken Up felt the pinch, Karloo Mick loomed as the obvious threat whilst Im Themightyquinn dodged tiring runners.
At the line, Bondy held Karloo Mick at bay comfortably whilst Im Themightyquinn was the unlucky runner after being held up at a crucial point.
The 3065m event was covered in a mile rate of 2.01.7 with the final quarter covered in 28.5 seconds.
The final mile was covered in a stunning time of 1.56.7 leaving those back in the pack little or no hope of catching the leader and eventual winner.
Winning driver Davey Butt quickly deflected the praise to his star pupil.
“He really deserved to win a major race, he's been such a great horse to us” Butt stated.
“He travelled well in front but the pressure was strong and I knew I had some good horses right on my back but to his credit he stuck it out well, he's such a clean winded horse” Butt added.
It was case of third time lucky for Butt after two unplaced efforts previously in the Hunter Cup aboard Happy Asset (4th - 1998) and Oscar Wild (11th – 2005).
Bondy is raced by Peter and Jocelyn Cates along with their daughters Nicola Copland and Joanne Lovett.
Peter Cates has enjoyed good success with the Butt stable for a number of years whilst he also raced Bogan Fella and shared in the ownership of City Rogue.
The next target for Bondy is the Watpac Inter Dominion series starting on February 19 at Harold Park in Sydney.
“He will head up on Monday and be stabled with Brian Hancock, Dad (Robin) will come over and look after him whilst Cath and I head back home” Butt explained.
“R.D knows him better than anyone and he tells me he's due for another holiday so he's in good hands” Butt quipped.
Bondy has won 21 of his 40 starts whilst his earnings are now in excess of $577,000.