IN Racing
Time for MacGregor’s charge to step up to the Plate
Times Ticking has overcome a setback for a belated crack at a top-flight title at the Hawke’s Bay spring carnival.
Paul Vettise, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk | September 29, 2023
Times Ticking will contest the Gr.1 Arrowfield Stud Plate (1600m) at Hastings.

Times Ticking has overcome a setback for a belated crack at a top-flight title at the Hawke’s Bay spring carnival.

Trainer and part-owner Alby MacGregor’s plans to run his pride and joy on the opening day of the meeting were dashed, but he has been pleased with his charge’s powers of recovery to head into Saturday’s Gr.1 Arrowfield Stud Plate (1600m) at Hastings in fine fettle.

The Opaki horseman was forced to revert to Plan B with Times Ticking, who has showed encouraging signs in lead-up trials ahead of his return to competition.

“We were going to run him in the Tarzino Trophy (Gr.1, 1400m), but he got a crook foot so we had to flag that,” MacGregor said.

“We took him to the trials after that and he went well, but it is a good field as you’d expect so it is a big ask but we shall see what happens.

“He’s just starting to lose his coat a bit now and he’s looking good.

“It’s the old story, he’s very, very well at the moment and if you’re not in you’ll never know.”

Times Ticking won both the Gr.3 Canterbury Gold Cup (2000m) and the Listed Easter Cup (1600m) at Riccarton during a lucrative autumn campaign before his winter preparation was derailed at Wanganui.

The son of Tavistock tailed the field home in his last appearance in the Listed AGC Training Stakes (1600m) after suffering a heart fibrillation.

“I’ve never had that ever before with a horse, I have heard about it plenty of times and he is fine now,” MacGregor said.

“He hasn’t showed any signs of ill effect at all. Everybody I have spoken to have said they can bounce back pretty quickly and he’s won his trials without a lot of effort.”

Times Ticking was successful in consecutive open heats on the all-weather track at Awapuni and at Foxton in the hands of Lisa Allpress, who will again be aboard in the Arrowfield Stud Plate.

Fortunately for MacGregor, the gelding’s versatility has made him one of the few trainers unconcerned about track conditions at Hastings with Times Ticking’s 10 career wins coming on both firm and heavy surfaces.

“I’m not worried about it at all, he’ll be enjoying that track,” he said.

Safely through Saturday, MacGregor is keen to take Times Ticking back to Christchurch for a tilt at the Gr.3 Coupland’s Bakeries Mile (1600m).

“It’s a bit race by race at the moment, but I would dearly like to take him back south for a crack at that if he’s going well at the time,” he said.

Tines Ticking has won three of his five appearances at Riccarton with MacGregor making his southern ventures a family affair, staying with son Dean at Rangiora and grandson Matthew, an apprentice blacksmith, often on strapping duties.

Times Ticking Gr.1 Arrowfield Stud Plate Lisa Allpress