Carradine ends frustrating run

GARY ALTON - RACE IMAGESAn exasperating run of minor placings was finally ended for Cambridge trainer Gary Alton when moody four-year-old Carradine broke maiden ranks on debut at Matamata last week.

In a grandstand finish, the Keeper gelding powered home along the rails to snatch the victory by a half-head and provide his conditioner with his first win for the new racing season and an end to a lean run in recent months.

While thrilled with the victory, Alton (pictured) was quick to admit he was more hopeful than confident of a good showing by his charge as his racing manners had left a little bit to be desired in the build-up to his first raceday outing.

“I think we were all just hoping he would behave himself as a first priority,” said Alton.

“He had been a real handful around the stable at home, just a bit pig-headed at times, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.

“He is a late-maturing type who we hadn’t done a whole lot with after he trialled back in March. He wasn’t easy to handle that day but he must have learned a few things as his behaviour this time was impeccable.”

Alton is hopeful the win will mark a turning point for the stable.

“We have had real frustrating run of late,” he explained. “I think at one stage we had around 30 odd minor placings without a win and if something could go wrong it would.

“I knew it was close on Wednesday and, although I did think he’d got there, I was a pretty relieved man when I heard the judge call our number.”

For Alton the victory was also a tonic in many other ways as he continues his battle against the debilitating central nervous system disorder Multiple Sclerosis, of which he was diagnosed just over six years ago.

“It’s not something I try to dwell on as I’m just trying to do the best I can with what I’ve been dealt,” he said.

“It can be tough some days and I get pretty tired, but all in all I’ve learned to live with what comes along with this type of illness.

“I can remember being a little bit relieved when I was first told that was what I had as I thought I might have a brain tumour or something like that and actually I didn’t know bugger all about what MS was.

“Once I read up about it, it wasn’t something to be thrilled about, but I’ve always taken the attitude I was going to battle hard against it and that’s what I’ve tried to do.

“It also helped explain to a few people at the training track that when they saw me wobbling or unsteady every now and then it wasn’t a sign I’d been on the turps all night.”

While MS doesn’t offer a favourable long-term prognosis, Alton is buoyed by the results of his most recent MRI examination which indicated his symptoms had remained stable over the four-year period since his last scan.

“The doctors reckon I’m pretty much at the same stage I was four years ago which I took as a positive sign,” he said.

“That’s reassuring as it means I can keep going with the routine we’ve established around the stable for the foreseeable future.

“I’ve got some great people who help me out, including Swampy McCullum, who is one of the owners in Carradine. He comes along and does an hour or so most mornings before he heads to his job at Cambridge Stud so to get that win for him and the other owners who have stuck with me was something really special.”

MS Awareness week runs from August 29 to September 4. To find out more about the disorder or to make a donation towards supporting those effected by multiple sclerosis visit

– NZ Racing Desk