Inter Dominion proves to be launching pad of training careers

For a young trainer aiming to make their mark in the sport of harness racing, the Inter Dominion series is a perfect launching pad to announce yourself as a star on the rise.

Just look at what Jason Grimson has achieved over the last few years, winning the famous ID pacing title in two straight years with different horses.

As the series rolls north to the Sunshine State later this year, there is every chance a new trainer will emerge on the scene that will reach great heights in the future.

Grimson has done it in recent years but when the ID concept was at its peak a couple of decades ago, it was Tim Butt who rose to Grand Circuit glory.

The year was 2001 and Butt arrived in the Queensland with a trotter named Take A Moment.

Together they lifted their names to brighter lights than they could have ever imagined before the popular series kicked-off.

All these years on, Butt is now living in the state where some of his greatest triumphs as a trainer were achieved and he knows all too well that ‘ID23’ could well be the starting point for a new superstar of the code to emerge.

“It was early in my career as a trainer and to come to an Inter Dominion, it was a dream really,” Butt said.

The Kiwi native of course made the trip across the ditch to Australia with the trotter who would become one of the best square gaiters to ever come out of the country.

Tim Butt with his Inter Dominion silverware at his Queensland stable.

The victory set up a career for the top trainer as he would go on to win multiple ID crowns, Cup races across the globe, a Miracle Mile, among other big-time features.

“Being a young trainer that meant a lot,” he said.

“You aspire to make history as a trainer as the Inter Dominion has that history behind it as a concept.”

It was not only Take A Moment’s deeds that lifted Butt to greatness in Queensland.

He was back almost a decade later with a champion American-bred pacer in Mr Feelgood who would win the 2009 Inter Dominion Pacing Grand Final at the old Parklands track at the Gold Coast.

“Winning the Inter Dominion is the hardest thing to do because you are pitting yourself against the best trainers, drivers and horses in Australasia,” Butt said.

“To achieve that, it is the highest achievement in harness racing, in my opinion.

“It puts you in lights as a trainer if you are to win and shows you are capable, understand and have the ability of producing those horses.

“There is a lot of pressure through the series through the media and what not and you have to deal with that. It is a great grounding for producing top horseman.”

Tim Butt with his Inter Dominion silverware at his Queensland stable.

It was a rarity back in 2001 for the square gaiters to be involved in an ID series.

It was the only time trotters have been a part of an ID series in Queensland.

The trotters will be involved come Albion Park next month again.

“Take A Moment was an outstanding trotter at the time,” Racing Queensland’s Harness Operations Manager Brett Rail recalls.

“It was unique as we had no Inter Dominion trotting in Queensland before that series.

“We had an outstanding field of trotters in Queensland that year.

“It was a pleasure to have him here because Take A Moment was pretty much the best of his time and carried on his good work and won the Final.”

The Inter Dominion series returns to Queensland later this year for the first time since it was last hosted at the Gold Coast in 2009.

The 2023 Inter Dominion Championship commences on Friday, December 1, 2023.

The second and third rounds of qualifiers will follow on December 5 and December 9 respectively, culminating with both pacing and trotting Finals on Saturday, December 16.

As a young trainer at the time coming across from NZ, Butt was beaming to be able to rub shoulders with some of the greats of the sport back in 2001.

The respected horseman notes that there is nothing like an ID series with the way the drama and excitement builds through the heats before the big decider.

It was the case for his champion trotter Take A Moment all those years ago.

The Inter Dominion Hall of Famer struggled in the first of the heats before winning the second to force his way into the Final.

“To rub shoulders with the leading trainers and drivers, it was a great experience,” he said.

“When you are a young trainer, you aspire to do those things.”

Butt – who is dabbling in training gallopers these days as well as his standardbreds – says the return of the Inter Dominion series back to Queensland should be a boon for the sport in the state.

“The Inter Dominions were the pinnacles in those days as you got a lot of interstate people travelling regardless if they were in Hobart, South Australia, Sydney and Melbourne or wherever,” he said.

“Queensland was a destination people loved because you were so close to the Gold Coast and people used it as a holiday but also fostering their love of harness racing.

“To be able to combine the two, it was terrific. It is hard to recapture those days but I have great memories of them. To have it back in Queensland, it is fantastic.”

Trainer Jason Grimson.

By Jordan Gerrans