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Inside the final 200 metres and Make Way, arrowed, is under real pressure in last Saturday’s New South Wales Derby heat.

Coughs explain Make Way’s lacklustre performance in derby heat at Menangle

When Make Way felt under pressure 600 metres from home in last Saturday’s New South Wales Derby heat at Menangle, driver Anthony Butt started to suspect something might be amiss.

And just 10 minutes after the race he was proven right when Lincoln Farms’ colt started coughing.

“He felt good all the way until the 600 when he came under pressure, which is not like him,’’ says Butt.

Make Way, who travelled four deep on the markers, eventually weakened to beat only one home.

“He coughed a few times after the race and again yesterday morning so he’s obviously picked up some bug.

“I started treating him with antibiotics but it’s obviously nothing serious as when I put him out into his paddock today he was bucking and kicking.’’

Butt says he’s seen the same scenario a hundred times before - a horse seemingly bright and well underperforms, whatever is brewing coming out only through the stress of a race.

Anthony Butt with a vizored Make Way to keep the flies at bay.Anthony Butt with a vizored Make Way to keep the flies at bay.“I could be just the time of the year when there’s a mix of seasons. It’s been funny weather, hot one minute then not.

“And if there’s something in their lungs it really affects their performance and they can be five or six lengths down on their best. And at that level you’ve only got to be down a couple of percent and you’re out of play.’’

Butt says Make Way’s being off colour might have made little difference anyway given the way the race unfolded.

He was starting to think as far as 800 metres out that Make Way was in trouble, with the frenetic speed of the race and the favourites on the front end while he was buried away on the markers.

Butt’s fears that Make Way’s gate speed might not be enough to hold up from the pole at the awkward 2400 metre starting point on the bend proved well founded.

“He got out of the gate really well but couldn’t hold those horses who were going faster out wider.’’

First Max Delight then Petes Big Jim crossed Make Way and he was history when the second favourite Lochinvar Art rolled to the top, putting him four deep.

Lochinvar Art ended up leading all the way and clocking a mile rate of 1:54.5 for the 2400 metres, a pace too fast even for the All Stars’ unbackable hot favourite I’m Anothermasterpiece who came out of the one-one to sit parked at the bell and stopped to fourth, missing out on the final.

But if you think that was fast, Emma Stewart’s Bettor’s Delight colt Demon Delight broke all stopwatches when he ran down Muscle Factory in the third derby heat to clock a mile rate of 1:52.7, scoring by more than eight metres in 2:48.

His sectionals of 29.4, 28.5, 27.4 and 27.5 saw him smash Smolda’s previous world record for 2400 metres.

“They’re the best of the best and they were flying all night,’’ says Butt.

“We’ll find another good race for him as soon as he tells us he’s back to his best. They normally bounce back quickly after antibiotics and I expect it will only be another couple of weeks.’’

Our runners this week: How our trainers rate them

Ray Green

Ray’s comments

Friday night at Auckland

Race 4: Copy That

“He’s certainly got some speed. The race was all over by the time he got going last week and James never pulled the plugs. Clearly he’s the best horse in the field on ability. But there are no guarantees he’ll behave.’’

Race 4: Tommy Lincoln

“He’s trialling well but I won’t be expecting too much from gate six. He was a big, gangly, weak thing but he’s strengthened up a lot this time in.”

Race 4: Billy Lincoln

“It’s his first race, and first time away from Pukekohe and he’s drawn the inside of the second row so logic tells you he has a few things against him. Until six weeks ago he was extremely average but he’s progressively got better and better.”

Race 8: Governor’s Bay

“He had a tough trip last time so it wasn’t surprising he weakened. He’s training well and this field looks a lot easier.”

Al Barnes

Al’s comments

Friday at Albion Park

Race 1: Lincoln’s Girl
2.42pm NZ time

“It’s not a bad field but she’s as good as anything else in there and looks a top two chance with a little luck from the second row. She went super last time - I didn’t know how brave she’d be when I saw her caught in the chair but Hayden was very happy with how she went.”

Race 9: Vasari
7.22pm NZ time

“He should get out a lot better this week with Hayden back driving and we’ll be trying to cross the pole marker. The horse is really well and he’ll win one soon. It’s a good line-up but he should run top three.’’

Anthony Butt

Ants’ comments

Saturday night at Menangle

Race 7: Lets Strike The Gold
10.22pm NZ time

“This is a difficlut race for him to win and I’ll be driving him quietly from that barrier. It’s been nearly nine months since he raced and he’s going to need a couple of runs to get his race fitness.”

Race Images - Harness