Houghton appointed head trainer at Dancingonmoonlight Farm
By Jonny Turner
Ross Houghton has started a new chapter in his harness racing career by being appointed the head trainer at Dancingonmoonlight Farm.
The horseman has quickly built up a bumper team in his first few weeks at the Swannanoa property.
Dancingonmoonlight Farm boss Robert Famularo had been on the lookout to a find for a trainer to make use of its high class training facilities, which had been vacant since Gavin Smith moved to Rangiora in 2017.
Houghton, who has recently been a key part of Robert Dunn’s stable, said he jumped at the opportunity to train from the property and take the logical next step in his harness racing career.
“I certainly did enjoy my time at the Dunns’, I had been there for years helping out before I started full time,” the trainer said.
“But, it was time for me to go and have a go myself and give it a crack.”
“When this opportunity came up it was well worth having a go.”
Houghton initially planned to train six to seven horses while getting himself established at the property.
He already has 14 horses in work, mostly rising 2yr-olds.
Houghton said he plans to make training young horses, and giving them individual care and attention, the centre of his training business.
“It is not going to be a numbers thing, every horse is going to get the proper attention.”
“I like doing the young ones and breaking them in.”
“The satisfaction from seeing them pacing and getting them up and running can be better than training them.”
Houghton said the excellent facilities at Dancingonmoonlight Farm should help give those young horses every chance to succeed.
The addition of a head trainer at Dancingonmoonlight Farm means the property will effectively be a one-stop shop for anything horse related.
Horses will be bred, weaned, agisted and trained at the property.
Famularo said his focus would remain on the breeding and agistment business at the farm.
Houghton would be charged with handling some of his young stock while also training horses for other owners.
“We highly respect Ross and we are very excited for him,” Famularo said.
Houghton headed to the Swannanoa property after playing a vital role, which largely had him working behind the scenes, at Robert Dunn’s Woodend Beach stable.
During his time there, he added the latest of his three winners as a trainer - from just 22 starters - to his CV.
Houghton has had 63 wins as a driver in New Zealand.