Horton’s persistence finally rewarded
By Garrick Knight
The unwavering perseverance of her rookie trainer saw Bettors Atom get a long overdue maiden win at Forbury Park on Thursday night.
In the process, the tiny mare by gun sire Bettor’s Delight also gave Michele Horton her first training winner.
It was two-and-a-half years and 43 starts in the making for the pair, but well worth the wait.
“It was a good drive home from Dunedin last night, that’s for sure,” said Horton, from Makarewa.
“Craig (Ferguson, driver) had kept reassuring me that she’d pick a win up one day, she just needed things to go her way.
“She’s not very big – in fact she’s a tiny thing - and she hits her knee so needs spreaders.
“But she tries really, really hard and that’s all I can ask.
“I’ve only really been disappointed with her once or twice, and that’s generally when it’s been wet.”
Horton was helping out Wayne Adams at Ascot Park when local retired vet and breeder, Peter Williams, walked in and offered her a horse.
“He said she’s very small, but you can have her.
“Craig was working there at the time and said at least have a look at her and give it some thought.”
Horton did just that and that’s where the rather long racing tale started.
Bettors Atom had placed 15 times before Thursday night’s win.
Horton herself got her early grounding in the game with a now-passed Southland legend.
“I started working for Graham Bond years ago then went on to Bud Baynes’, where I stayed for five years.
“Then I put it all aside and went farming at Balclutha.
“About five years back we sold the farm and moved back here. That’s when I decided to give it another go.”
Horton is jogging up one other horse on her property at Makarewa, which has a small, private track.
“There’s been a few trainers here over the years; I think it was Alex McDonald’s originally.
“I’ve only got a small track, but Bettors Atom gets a good speed up galloping around it.
“That’s one advantage of her being so small, I guess.
“If she needs to be fast worked, I’ll take her over to Wyndham though.
“My other horse will go over there to Craig in a week or two; I really only want one in work.”
As for Bettors Atom, she’ll likely have one more start before a well-earned spell then another racing stint as a seven-year-old next season.
“I’ll give her another start and see how she goes, but she’s been up quite a while and deserves a break.
“She doesn’t like her races too close together, so I have to space and that’s made for a long season.”