Worthing ends stable drought

Cambridge trainer Gary Alton breathed a sigh of relief when Worthing raced away with the Pacific Homes Open 1600 at Ruakaka yesterday.

“I hadn’t won a race since the Thorndon Mile (won by Historian last January),” said Alton. “If he hadn’t won, he would have been my 40th runner without a winner. If fifths and sixth counted as wins I’d be doing well.”

The win not only ended a drought for Alton, but also for Worthing, who had been off the winner’s list since scoring at Te Rapa in October 2011. Worthing had six placings last year, including four last winter with a third in the Listed Waikato Stud Opunake Cup being among the tally.

He went into yesterday’s race with four lead-up runs and different tactics were adopted by rider James McDonald in the Ruakaka event with the top international jockey taking Worthing to the front.

“We’d been trying to ride him handy but things hadn’t worked out,” said Alton. “Early on we spent 20 starts trying to stop him bolting to the front and now we’re trying to get him there. But he’s a lot more experienced now and a bit easier to handle. James found that out yesterday. He used to ride him when he was taking off to the front and doing things wrong.”

McDonald had also had a previous win on Worthing, at Te Rapa in April 2011, and he always had the gelding travelling well yesterday.

Adding to the excitement for Alton was the fact he also shares in the ownership of Worthing with his partner, Catherine Cameron, and Doug Dawson.

“It’s good to see him win again,” said Alton. “He split a pastern after he won his first start as a two-year-old at Te Rapa. He’s still got four screws in his leg.”

Worthing was racing in blinkers for the first time yesterday and his lead-up work had been confined mainly to the treadmill. “Catherine rode him around the arena last Wednesday and that’s the first time he’d had someone on his back since his last start,” said Alton.

Cameron was on track with Worthing yesterday, while Alton made the trek south to New Plymouth with the veteran Brompton, who finished a game third behind I’m Not Ticklish.

“He had $40 to go before yesterday to crack the $100,000 in stakes and he’s done it now,” said Alton. “He’s been a good old horse for us.”