Riccarton trainer Andrew Carston is looking forward to kicking off the new racing season at Ashburton on Saturday, following a 10th place finish in the 2019-20 trainers’ premiership.
Carston, who trains between 30 and 35 horses, had 30 wins, three at black-type level.
“A top 10 finish is obviously a great result,” Carston said.
“It’s an honour just to see my name amongst so many great trainers who I have a lot of respect for.”
Carston said the improving quality of his equine team and his dedicated staff were key to his success.
“It’s been a natural progression from when I started,” he said. “As we’ve won more races it’s attracted more owners and better-quality horses.
“Go Racing have been great too, supporting me with quality yearlings and I’ve also had a bit of luck buying the odd cheap one myself.
“I also have a really good team of staff, both riders and ground staff. We all get along well and work hard and I believe that in racing the more you put in the more you get out of it.”
Carston’s season highlight was Miss Federer’s win in the Listed NZB Airfreight Stakes 3YO (1400m) at Wingatui.
“Mainly because she hadn’t been going that well and to win on her grand final day was just a huge result,” he said.
Miss Federer is due to return to Carston’s barn in a couple of weeks, with the Listed Pegasus Stakes (1000m) and Gr.3 Stewards Stakes Handicap (1200m) during New Zealand Cup Week in November her main spring targets.
Carston’s other stakes wins came in the form of Ticket To Ride in the Gr.3 Valachi Downs Canterbury Breeders’ Stakes (1400m) and Miss Federer’s win in the Listed New Zealand Bloodstock Canterbury Belle Stakes (1200m) in September.
While his equine team has had a good season, the breakout star of the stable has been apprentice jockey Kozzi Asano, who took out the New Zealand apprentice jockey’s premiership.
“Having Kozzi on the team has been really rewarding as well and it’s helped having an in-form jockey who knows the horses well,” Carston said.
Looking ahead to the new season Carston is hoping to continue the momentum of 2019-20 and win more stakes races.
“We have a couple of quite nice horses that I’m hoping can continue to step up the grades,” he said.
“Caitlyn Jay and Where’s Wally have both had one start for one win so you can’t knock them, and I think they could progress, and Hunua Hank could be an emerging stayer in the South Island.”
Two of those horses will step out at Ashburton on Saturday – Where’s Wally in the Quigley contracting (1200m) and Hunua Hank in the Brand & Gunn Want The Return of Trackside Radio (1600m).
“Where’s Wally was an impressive winner on debut last start,” Carston said. “He’s drawn the outside gate so he will need some luck, but he’s a definite winning chance.
“Hunua Hank is out of his grade and getting very little weight relief. The open condition races are not really suiting him at the moment, but he is a nice horse and he won well last start, so he does deserve to be there. He’s probably looking for a little bit further, but this run will decide what path we take with him.”
Carston also has Keep Quiet in the Ryal Bush Transport Maiden (1600m), Highly Polished and Miss Oaks in the Corchranes of Canterbury Maiden (1600m), Reliably Perky in the Rural Transport (2200m) and Apellido and Sanctify in the Barnswood Farm Stakes Day 18th October (1600m).
“Keep Quiet is unlucky not to have won a race before now,” he said. “The slightly better track conditions are my only concern, but it does look to be a very winnable race for him.
“Highly Polished and Miss Oaks were both a bit disappointing last start but I’ve put blinkers back on Highly Polished and Miss Oaks has the tongue tie on. She is backing up from Saturday but she’s bounced through the run well. They’re both better than their last starts and are place chances.
“Reliably Perky was a good last start winner albeit in a maiden race with only five other runners. She’s drawn a bad gate (17) and I’m a little concerned that the track will be a bit firm for her.
“Apellido is a chance, she got away with murder in front last start and won well, but she’s drawn a bad gate (17) this week so we won’t be going forward with her this time.
“Sanctify has been a bit disappointing, but we’ve taken her blinkers off and we’re stepping her up to a mile, Chris Johnson will ride from a good gate. She’s an each way chance.”