Group One glory for Gary

Gary Alton once again proved he is one of the most under-rated trainers in the country when he prepared Historian to win the Group I Harcourt’s Thorndon Mile at Trentham yesterday.

The courageous win in the $200,000 feature marked the first Group One success for Alton, who, along with his partner, accomplished equestrian rider Catherine Cameron, rejuvenated Historian, nursing him back to winning form after he bowed a tendon when in Hong Kong.

Historian had been trained by fellow Cambridge horsemen Tony Pike and Mark Donoghue before heading overseas and left New Zealand with a last-start second to Jimmy Choux in the 2011 Group I Telecom NZ Derby.

He recaptured his best form in just his third start for Alton after two unlucky runs. And it was all done without a hitout on a racetrack between races.

“He does just about all of his work on the treadmill,” said Alton. “The only other work is when Catherine rides him once a week in the paddock or the arena. I don’t think he would have stood up being fulltime on a racetrack.”

Historian was the third Group One runner Alton has had and he had only one regret, the fact his father Ian passed away before the big occasion. Ian Alton died on January 5 after a long illness.

“When I was giving my speech and looked up at the crowd I thought the old boy would have been stoked to see me win a Group One,” said Alton. “He would have been proud.”

Trentham had been the scene of one of Alton’s biggest wins, the Parliamentary Handicap with Brompton, who was owned by his parents.

“It’s a great feeling to have won a Group One,” said Alton (54). “I thought the horse was good enough and it was a big effort to win after being caught three-wide the whole trip. He’s tough.”

The race proved a great result for Cambridge with Lady Kipling running on strongly for second to provide the centre with the quinella.