“Pretty Good Season” for jockey Ashley Butler

Published 2 August 2023

“Pretty Good Season” for jockey Ashley Butler

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While it is regarded as a truism that “weight stops trains”, it certainly hasn’t stopped Rockhampton heavyweight jockey Ashley Butler, 31, from having just completed his most successful season.

Ashley or Ash as he is more commonly known rode 81 winners for the 2022-23 Queensland racing season which considering he cannot ride below 58kg is nothing short of astonishing.

Even more so is Ash’s winning strike rate of 26.60% which is by far and away the highest of the top 20 jockeys in the premiership listings for Queensland.

As well as his 81 winners, Butler has ridden 60 second placings and 34 thirds from just 304 race rides for the 12 months of the season.

This is the least number of rides of the top 20 headed by James Orman on 197 Queensland winners.

Naturally, Butler is chuffed with his stats but not being one to overstate he simply said when I raised the figures with him “Tony I’ve had a pretty good season”.

Ash said he normally walks around at about 62kg and during the two days before a race meeting such as Callaghan Park, Rockhampton on Thursday, he has a “few spas” which bring about good sweats.

During this time, he restricts his eating and with the two going in tandem “it usually works”.

Ï was taking rides at 57kg but the stewards put a bar on me as I was having to be replaced often so now, I can’t take a ride under 58kg”, he explained.

A Moranbah lad, Ash Butler always had weight working against him and him working against it. 

He was one of those fortunate apprentice jockeys to ride a winner on his first day out on the racetrack.

The circumstances were unusual, which can be par for the course in horse racing.

Ï remember it was at Keppel Park, Yeppoon (correct, November 1, 2008) and I won my first race on a horse called Haggis. I shouldn’t have won as Meggsie Hall was on the leader and he was going to win but he came off and my horse was left in front. I was lucky and to this day Meggsie reminds me of that”, Ash said.

He was lucky again at Callaghan Park in May last year winning the inaugural The Archer on Emerald Kingdom, 59kg) which incidentally retired two starts after being runner-up in that race this year.

Come Thursday at the RJC’s eight race TAB card at Callaghan Park, A. Butler has one of his best books of rides for some time. 

He could well kick off the first race of the new season in winning form on Jamie McConacy’s outstanding young gelding Sunnycoast (Race 1 – TAB 1).

Butler knows Sunnycoast well having won on him at Callaghan Park in March and in a recent blitzing trial win indicating the precocious 3YO is ready to fire first-up on Thursday. 

As well he ride’s Nick Walsh’s talent Kasinova Kin (R 3 -TAB 1); Kevin Hansen’s Onchao (R 4 -TAB 1) and Clinton Taylor’s Nasha (R 5 – TAB 1).

Then Butler joins forces with his most successful sparring partner, the trainer Jared Wehlow through Cusack (R 6 -TAB 1) and Tricology (R 8 – TAB 1). 

Together they have shared 73 winners while Butler has ridden 181 Callaghan Park victors during his career which has netted about 640 winners. 

Put on the spot and asked to nominate his best ride on Thursday, Ash was quick to say Sunnycoast.

Racing commences at Callaghan Park at 12.32pm and if all goes to plan Sunnycoast should be winning just a tick after 12.33pm.

 

Photo Credit: Caught in the Act Photography.

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