Trainer Michael Barton will start his first horse in more than seven years when Laverstock Lane contests the XXXX Gold Benchmark 50 (1000m) at Gundagai on Saturday.
Racing was a fair bit different when Barton saddled up his last starter in April, 2010.
Despite the long time away from the track, he is looking forward to catching up with some familiar faces. “There was no Benchmark Ratings systems when I gave it away,” he said.
“I’m still training the same way I did before and I’m about to find out if that still works.”
Barton, who trains at Yass, has always owned Laverstock Lane who resumes from a spell after having his last start at the Sunshine Coast more than 12 months ago.
The 48-year-old trains a couple of horses and has engaged the services of leading district jockey Nick Souquet to ride Laverstock Lane.
“I have always had a bit of luck at Gundagai. I’m looking forward to having a starter again after so long,” he said.
Barton’s curtains and blinds business didn’t allow him the time he felt necessary to give 100 per cent to his horses so he gave it away.
He still has the business and with some staff has been able to move back into training.
“I ride the horses myself and can’t wait to start again,” he said.
Barton said older horses like Laverstock Lane were suited to the Benchmark Ratings system which didn’t exist when he left the industry.
“The older horses can still keep racing and be competitive,” he said.
While he never trained big numbers, Barton always had a handy horse capable of winning a race or two.
As for a first-up win, Barton is adopting a wait and see approach.
“The horse is going well so I’m confident of a good run,” he said.
“Keith Dryden trained Laverstock Lane for a while and did a good job with him.”
“He was then sent to Queensland but didn’t handle the hot weather so he came home.”
Laverstock Lane faces a strong field which includes noted leaders Aussie James and Saint Aquila.
Two-year-old Fire Stoker adds extra interest, but has to contend with the outside barrier and 60.5 kilograms at his first start back from a spell.