Vale Terry Butts

Terry Butts is being remembered as a passionate life-long racing man following his passing in North Queensland over the weekend.

The well-travelled Terry Butts endured a two-year long battle with illness before his death in Townsville on Saturday night.

He was 79 years of age.

The racing industry took Butts all over the world – calling, writing and training all over the globe – before he would eventually settle in Townsville.

He started his last few horses in a race as a trainer in late 2021, with one of those being promising sprinter Proximate Cause.

While Butts called time on his training tenure to focus on his health, the gelding has continued to race on with great success for fellow Townsville horseman Gary Dickson.

The racing industry was what Butts dedicated his life towards.

He grew up around Albury where his father trained gallopers, who got into the game from his father, who was also a trainer.

In a radio interview in late 2021, Butts reminisced about strapping horses at the races at 11 years of age.

Just a few years later he would be calling the races, while riding track work in the morning.

He flirted with being a jockey but instead chased other interests within the industry.

Butts started his cadetship as a journalist at the Border Mail in Albury before relocating to Hong Kong where he worked over a long period for English newspapers and was the first English speaking race caller in Hong Kong.

He would also call the races in South Africa.

South Africa was the last venue he would call before relocating to Australia again and turning his hand to training in North Queensland.

Butts began training his own team in the early 1990s and won numerous Cup races in North Queensland including the Bowen, Home Hill, Gordonvale, Ingham, Atherton and Cairns.

He also trained two Cairns Amateurs Cup winners as well as two Townsville Amateurs Cups.

In the last few years of his training tenure, Butts enjoyed success with gallopers such as Cleo's Poet, Duke Of Cleveland, Lifetime Quest and Proximate Cause.

Gift Man was one of Butts' great horses, winning a Townsville Cup in 1991.

Townsville Turf Club President Malcolm Petrofski described Butts as a "well-respected bloke" and noted his influence on racing across North Queensland and not just Cluden Park.

As a writer and bookmaker, Butts was not afraid to speak his mind and while he ruffled a few feathers over time, he always had racings best interest in his heart.

"Terry was a passionate racing person and was always very strong on his opinions," Petrofski said.

"His contribution to racing in North Queensland – not just in Townsville but the wider North Queensland – should be recognised.

"He always had the best intent with what he was doing when he voiced his opinions.

"He was always passionate and Terry always was trying to do the best he can for racing."

Michael Charge – the former CEO of the Townsville Turf Club  - referred to the late Butts as "one of the true great characters in racing".

"Love him or hate him, I have unashamedly done both over the years, 'Buttsy' always stayed true to his ethos, he was a man not afraid to tell it how he saw it," Charge said.

"Terry very proudly never left anyone to die wondering on his thoughts and lived by his sword and his words.

"He lived larger than life with an experience and diversity in our great game that took him right around the world, a life unrivalled that only a select few would ever have the privilege.

"Terry had an ability to speak from not only experience, but through terrific wisdom, a word smith who wasn't afraid to ruffle feathers, especially if it meant standing up for what he believed was right and what he thought was best for his beloved great racing game."

As well as collecting country cups throughout North Queensland, Butts also prepared metropolitan winners in both Queensland and New South Wales.

"He put his heart and soul into his horses and his racing," Petrofski said.

"He did not mind travelling his horses."

After finishing up as the CEO of the Cluden Park-based club, Charge has transitioned into working as SKY Racing's track side host at Queensland's regional TAB race meetings.

Charge believes Butts has left an indelible mark on racing, especially throughout North Queensland

"Terry was uniquely and very diversely dedicated to racing throughout his lifetime," Charge said.

"Terry's beautiful wife Kathy, family and many friends, will forever live out his legacy in honour of an absolute legend and iconic racing character, from start to finish, 'Buttsy' did it his way."

Veteran Townsville trainer Dickson hopes Proximate Cause can continue to race in Butts' spirit.

Kerry Donnelly - a long-time stable foreman for Butts - also trained Proximate Cause for a period of time before he ended up in the yard of Dickson. 

Butts prepared the gelding to three victories from four starts in late 2021 before Dickson eventually took over the training duties.

"Buttsy and I have been mates since the time I arrived here in Townsville and we've always swapped ideas on training horses," Dickson said recently.

"We haven't always agreed on things but we've done all right over the years and this gives us the chance to forge our friendship even closer.

"Proximate Cause could get into the Open events and there's no real reason he won't make it.

"He's certainly got the ability."

Proximate Cause is nominated to contest a Class 6 Plate at Townsville's Cluden Park on Thursday afternoon.

"Hopefully the horse can go well and there might be a legacy for Terry," Petrofski said.

"I hope the horse can go really well."

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