Alton lands second Group One win with Historian

Cambridge trainer Gary Alton made a comment after Historian’s win in the Gr. 1 Zabeel Classic at Ellerslie today which sums up his stable star’s courage.

“I’d like to be able to clone his ticker,” said Alton before adding,” And if I had to go to war, I’d love to have him right by your side.

“It never ceases to amaze me how tough and genuine he is. He’s built like a big steeplechaser but he sure can gallop.”

Historian credited Alton with his first Group One win when taking the Harcourt’s Thorndon Mile at Trentham last January and his second win at the top level left Alton slightly stunned after the race, though he did expect him to perform well.

While Alton was able to hide his delight, not so his partner, Catherine Cameron, who sported a winning smile that just would not leave her face.

Historian’s win was a team effort, as is all the success which comes in the Alton stable. And playing his part was ride Matt Cameron, who posted his third Group One win.

Cameron’s first Group One success was aboard the Cambridge-trained Willy Smith in the 2007 Wellington Cup and his other win at the top level was in the 2009 Zabeel Classic, aboard Vosne Romanee.

With no set pacemaker in today’s Zabeel Classic, Cameron rated Historian perfectly in front, being allowed to dictate his own terms.

“I didn’t think we’d get it that easy in front,” said Cameron. “He’s a good, genuine horse who is so tough. I knew he’d fight right to the finish.”

Cameron put the pressure on coming to the home turn and Historian kept giving over the final stages with challenges coming thick and fast inside the final 200 metres. He was challenged firstly by Soriano on his inside, then later by O’Fille on his outer and at the line held the latter out by a long head. Soriano was a nose away third with a half-head to Viadana.

Historian has been plagued by unsoundess and it’s a credit to Alton and Cameron that he has been able to race again after returning from Hong Kong, where he was sent after finishing second to Jimmy Choux in the 2011 Gr. 1 Telecom NZ Derby when trained by Tony Pike and Mark Donoghue.

He entered the Alton stable with a record of seven starts for two wins and five placings and has now taken his record to 16 starts for five wins and six placings and $716,175 in prize-money.

The majority of Historian’s work is done on the treadmill and, though he hasn’t had a recurrence of the tendon problems which saw his return from Hong Kong, he does experience hoof problems at times, especially after being reshod.

Having Historian reshod again presented Alton with a concern leading into today’s race.

“He was shod last Tuesday and though he was not sore he was not quite himself this morning, but we got him here,” said Alton. “He’s one of those horses who can go through the pain barrier, that’s why he is so good.”