$200 dam produces Butson’s first breeding win – True Story!

By Duane Ranger

Former Counties Racing Club president, Darryl Butson’s first foray into standardbred breeding couldn’t have come any cheaper.

The 57-year-old paid just $200 for un-raced Monarchy – Sungait Reb mare named Sundon’s Niece.

“I was down on business in Christchurch and stayed on a day later just so I could attend Roydon Lodge’s last Dispersal Sale. Julie (wife) and I were looking for a broodmare, so I stayed on an extra night.

Darryl & Julie Butson

“Then when I got there, I actually had my eye on an SJ ‘s Photo mare, but Alabar were chasing it, so I opted out.

“Then when I missed out on her I was about to leave and then someone at Roydon Lodge asked me if I was interested in one of the passed in broodmares. which was Sundon’s Niece.

“As the stud was about to permanently close, she had to find a new home and as I believe everything happens for a reason I thought why not? Let’s give her a go.

They virtually gave her away,” Butson said.

When Butson did some research on his new purchase, he realised Sundon’s Neice’s mother Sungait Reb won 15 races ($178,805) and placed in the Hambletonian and DG Jones Memorial.

She was the sixth of eight foals out of the 1978 Coaltown mare, Sungait Song so there is plenty of strong trotting blood in the family.

“Because the mare was basically given to us Julie and I decided to invest in a quality sire, so that’s why we put Sundon’s Niece to Creatine,” Butson said.

“Our trainer gave us the advice to go to him. We had known Dave and Clare for years and they know what they are talking about,” he added.

Dave and Clare are the McGowans – the Pukekohe trainers of that Creatine – Sundon Niece’s foal named True Story who also broke him in and gave him his early education.

In fact, the former drove True Story to his first victory in race one at Cambridge Raceway on September 29. The 3-year-old gelding was having his fourth start and won with a 2:07.2-mile rate. He races again this Thursday, Race 1, Cambridge.

“It was a great thrill to breed and own your first trotting winner. Even though I’ve been involved in thoroughbred racing and administration for many years, I’ve always been a ‘closet’ harness fan.

“Dad (Howard) actually trained in Timaru back in the day and was good friends with Fred Black, of No Response fame. Dad trained a Pointer Hanover gelding named Vinceabill, who won four races and just on $20,000 back in the mid to late 1990s.

“I remember going to Forbury Park in Dunedin when I was a kid with Dad who followed harness racing with a passion, so it was only natural I caught the bug. I have other memories of going to the NZ Cup in Christchurch in 1973 and watching the big guns like Arapaho, Robalan, Bomber Bill and the like.

“I co-owned the five-win pacer, Bella Chip, who won more than $130,000 in the early 1990s. But this is my first breeding victory and in many ways it’s more satisfying because you determined the breed and watched the foal grow into an athlete.

“Big ups to Dave and Clare. Their advice was spot on, and they are doing a great job with the little fella, who we’ve nicknamed ‘Tommy’,” Butson said.

Dave has had a long and successful career training trotters including interdominion and international success with the likes of Special Force, Kawarau Invasion, One Dream and Pure Power.

“Most people know Clare is an outstanding horsewoman in her own right who is in high demand for her equine physiotherapy skills and experience, and I can’t thank them enough for what they have done for ‘Tommy’, Julie and myself.

“I have to make special mention of Sheridan Rapley. She works for Dave and Clare and has played a big part in Tommy’s education. She drove him in his first trial and a couple of raceday starts, he added.”

When Sundon’s Niece returned a positive to Creatine in Christchurch the Butson’s floated their new broodmare back to their Waiau Pa (Franklin) property.

She has since left a Majestic Son yearling colt named Majestic Cracker who is up to the long reining stage and will be in a cart before too long.

When ‘Tommy’ was born he was the smallest foal I’d ever seen and at the time I wasn’t sure if he’d even develop into a racehorse, and even though he’s not big he’s a beautifully gaited trotter, who possesses a good motor.

“But if you told me when he was weanling that he would win a race as a 3-year-old, I would have laughed at you. We are rapt,” Butson said.

He said he had left Sundon’s Niece empty between foals and would probably go to Marcoola this breeding season.

“I’ve also bought a Sundon – Ezy Gee Gee broodmare named Ginger Bertha. She was previously with the Alabaster family and has since produced an outstanding Majestic Son filly for us. She’s likely to go back to that sire again,” Butson said.

Butson was born in Dunedin and moved to Western Australia with his family in his teens.

“I remember going to Gloucester Park and watching greats like Pure Steel and San Simeon go around. Then when I came back to New Zealand I worked in the hotel and restaurant industries before I bought a Mad Butcher franchise 20 years ago.

“I had that for about three years and have worked for AFFCO (Auckland Farmers Freezing Company) since, where I’m now the National Sales Manager.

“Gallops is in my blood, but I’ve always loved harness racing on the side. I was on the committee of the Counties Racing Club for several years before I became vice president and then president,” Butson said.

Butson’s wife Julie is an accomplished horsewoman who show jumps in the summer, hunts with the Pakuranga Hunt in winter, and has recently taken up polo lessons and is really enjoying a new equine experience.

“It’s all go around here,” Butson says. “You’re never too old to learn; we love working with horses and I’ll never stop dreaming,” Butson said.

Butson said he was looking forward to ‘Tommy’ heading back to Cambridge this week.

“He has graduated into one-win company now, and whatever happens we are proud of this little fella. He has come so far in such a short amount of time,” said Butson