Veteran trainer Alby MacGregor got to savour a three-generational triumph when Times Ticking won at Riccarton on Saturday.
Running for the first time past 1600m, Times Ticking defied 62kg to wear down Bully Boy to win the C S Stevens Memorial Banks Peninsula Cup (1800m).
It was a special triumph for the 75-year-old Wairarapa trainer as the horse had been stationed for the past three weeks with his son Dean at Rangiora, north of Christchurch, and his grandson Matthew acted as Times Ticking’s strapper on Saturday.
“Matthew is 18 and he’s just started an apprenticeship off as a blacksmith,” MacGregor said.
“The whole family was part of it, and it was very nice.”
Times Ticking has been a very good performer for MacGregor in recent years. The seven-year-old won the Gr.3 Red Badge Spring Sprint (1400m) at Hastings on October 15, and after missing out in the Gr.3 Coupland’s Bakeries Mile (1600m) in November, he went back down to the South Island in January.
There he finished fifth in the Listed Speight’s Timaru Stakes (1400m) on January 28 before his victory at Riccarton on Saturday.
“Dean has about 20 acres in Rangiora and it’s been a great place to have Times Ticking,” MacGregor said.
“He had improved since his Timaru run and I was very happy with the horse. He’s a pretty handy horse on his day.
“I always thought, now that he’s got a bit of age on him, that he could stay a bit, and he’s always been a horse that would do well in a dogfight, which he had on Saturday.”
The only problem leading into Saturday’s race was the 62kg impost; he conceded 10kg to the runner-up and 8kg to most of the other runners.
“I had been looking for an apprentice, but we really couldn’t find one that we thought would suit him,” MacGregor said.
“But we were pleased to get Jacob Lowry, who’s a really good jockey, and if he was going to carry weight, we wanted it to be more live weight than dead weight.”
Times Ticking isn’t the first horse of MacGregor’s to be prepared to win from his son’s property in Rangiora. Dean, who by day is a manager with IAG Insurance in Christchurch, has officially taken over the training of Awatane, who won five races for his father in the North Island.
Awatane won first-up for Dean at Riccarton last January, and is still in training at the age of 10, running midfield in a Rating 65 contest at Riccarton on Saturday.
MacGregor returned to his Wairarapa home on Monday, partly to see the first foal produced by Miss Cabana, a Colombia mare that was bred by his late racing partner John Jury.
“She has been up north all summer and only just got back to the farm, but she and her Vadamos colt are doing well,” he said.
“She’s back in foal again to Vadamos.”
With Times Ticking having proved himself past a mile, MacGregor now has some bigger goals, and would like to get him to the Gr.3 Canterbury Gold Cup (2000m) back at Riccarton on April 22.
“If all goes well, that would be a really good race for him,” MacGregor said.
“We know he can go past a mile now, and he did it with 62 kilos on Saturday, so it would be fantastic to get a chance back at Riccarton at weight-for-age.”
Once that race is done, MacGregor hopes to have Times Ticking back in Wairarapa for another spring campaign at Hastings.
“He’s won three times there and I’d love to have another go there next year.”