Catching up with old acquaintances on a Queensland holiday last month has led to Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Tony Allan deciding to continue his riding career in the Sunshine state of Australia.
Allan, who won the 1988 Gr.1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) on Empire Rose, has accepted an offer to be stable rider for former prominent New Zealand trainer Paddy Busuttin, who is making a comeback to training at Deagon after retiring a few years ago.
“Paddy made me an offer and it’s a fantastic opportunity for me,” Allan said. “I rode winners for Paddy years ago and it’ll be good to ride for him again.
“I go over on Thursday and already have a ride for Saturday at the Gold Coast meeting for another of my old New Zealand contacts, Graeme Cameron, who I had a lot of success with when he was training in Te Aroha.
“While I was over there on holiday I caught up with other old contacts, (trainers) Brian Smith and Sheila Laxon. I’m really looking forward to riding there. Deagon is close to Eagle Farm and I’ll be able to go in there to ride trackwork when I want.”
Allan spent six months on the sideline after breaking his arm in a race fall at New Plymouth last December and resumed at Te Rapa on July 20.
“The arm took a bit longer to heal and I didn’t want rush things,” Allan said. “I’ve had a couple of rides back and I’m happy with my progress.
“I’m looking forward to teaming up with Paddy. He’s got some nice horses in work.”
The original mentor of champion Sydney trainer Chris Waller, Busuttin was one of New Zealand’s leading trainers, preparing 778 winners, and he made successful Australian raids when travelling from his Foxton base with such top gallopers as the great stayer Castletown, an inductee into the NZ Racing Hall of Fame.
He also made his mark in Singapore when blazing the trail for other New Zealand trainers such as Laurie Laxon, Stephen Gray, Bruce Marsh, Mark Walker and Donna Logan. During his nine years in Singapore, his best performer was 2001 Singapore Horse of the Year Bocelli.
Busuttin also trained for a few seasons in Macau, winning the Macau Guineas (1500m) and Macau Derby (1800m) in 2011 with New Zealand-bred Imabayboy, and did have some success when training on the Gold Coast for a couple of seasons before calling it quits three years ago.
Busuttin has proudly watched his son, Trent, and partner Natalie Young making their mark as a successful training partnership from their Cranbourne base in Melbourne.
“I’m dead-keen again now and have got my old foreman, Rata Prince, working for me,” Busuttin said. “With Tony on board, I’m excited about the future.
“Tony rode quite a few winners for me back when he was young and I think he can really do well over here.
“I’ve got a young team and many of them are ready to kick off. Tony will be my stable rider and I’ll also be helping him get as many outside rides.”
Allan spent even longer off the scene than Busuttin, retiring in 2005 and working as a
track rider in Japan then doing a stint in the same role for Sydney trainers Peter and Paul Snowden before the desire to reach 1000 winners in New Zealand drew him back to race riding, settling back in Levin.
He reached 1000 wins aboard Aigne in March last year and added another 11 to the total before his fall last December, forming a successful association with Blondlign, winning a hat-trick of races.
Allan (52) believes now is the time to try his luck in Queensland after so long off the scene with injury.
“I lost a lot of my contacts being out for so long with other jockeys picking up the rides,” Allan said. “I could get going again, but it would take time. It’s better to try doing it somewhere new for now.
“I’m looking forward to riding in Queensland again. I had some good results there early in my career.
“I remember winning a couple at Eagle Farm and running third on Finezza Belle for Laurie Laxon in a Group Two (Prime Minister’s Cup, 2400m) at the Gold Coast.
“I also ran second on Sapio in the Brisbane Cup (Gr. 1, 3200m) and I rode Poetic Prince when he ran second to Planet Ruler in the Queensland Guineas (Gr.2, 1600m).”