Last Saturday night’s Group One winning trainer, Rickie Alchin, will be back racing in Queensland again this year, and hinted relocating to the Sunshine State is a real option, but not in the immediate future.
“I love the way they race up there, the handicapping system, and the Q-bred bonuses. The climate and lifestyle are also great, but I have many clients here I can’t let down.
“And while I have some nice young trotters down here it makes economic sense to keep racing them here and travel to Melbourne where the purses are better,” Menangle-based Alchin said.
“An extended Queensland trip could be on the cards this year, and after that who knows what the future will bring,” he added.
Alchin, who has been campaigning his horses in Queensland for the last three years, said there were rumours out there, but insisted nothing was set in concrete.
“Queensland ticks all the boxes and if I did come up, I wouldn’t sell my house here. Last year we trained 25 winners in Queensland in eight weeks, and that included two weeks in quarantine.
“We took our best horses there to perform and came home very happy. The wins have been more prevalent up there every time we come,” 33-year-old Alchin said.
Alchin is riding the crest of a wave at present. His stable star, Tough Monarch nailed the Group One $50,000 Knight Pistol Trot at Tabcorp Melton in Saturday’s (February 12).
On New Zealand Cup Day 2019 (November 12) Tough Monarch did what few Australian-based trotters have done over the years - and that was win the Group One $100,000 New Zealand Trotting Free-For-All at Addington Raceway.
He was the $3.10 favourite that day. On Saturday night he paid $7.10.
Driver Chris Svanosio thought the 9-year-old Monarchy gelding might have got beaten on the line.
“I wasn’t sure. There wasn’t much in it and you don’t know with the angle here. I’m just glad he had his nose stuck out,” he said.
Svanosio actually provided Alchin with another Group One victory when Watts Up Majestic won the Breeders Crown 2-year-old Trot Final at Tabcorp Park in Melton last November.
“I actually sent him down to Chris during Covid, so that was technically a combined victory. Watts Up Majestic has a world of ability. I’m really looking forward to watching him develop,” said Alchin.
But Alchin said he was also ultra-proud of Tough Monarch. He said his next goal would now be the Group One $100,000 Australian Trotting Grand Prix at Tabcorp Park Melton on February 27.
“I was fortunate enough to get Tough Monarch when he was unbroken and quite a handful. A bloke in New South Wales called Dennis Wilson recommended me to (the owners to) try and break him in,” Alchin said.
“It has taken him a long time to mature and do things right but he has always shown tons of ability, and he seems to be putting it all together a bit later in his career,” Alchin said.
“However, I did win a Group One before he arrived. That was behind Regulus in the Redcliffe Year Sales 2-year-old Final back in 2018. Miss Hooligan also won a Group Three race for me at Albion Park the same year,” he added.
Born in the Riverina town of Temora, Alchin quickly reminds people that was also where the legendary pacer, Paleface Adios (108 wins) was born.
The five-time Group One winning trainer, who also breaks in up to 60 horses a year, said he had grown up with horses all around him.
“My mother was a Harpley, and that’s a pretty famous harness racing name in the Riverina. Her father, Russell, was a butcher in Temora and he had horses.
“In turn Ray Walker turn gave me and my brother Jarrod a lot of opportunities early on.”
Alchin then worked for Peter Morris before going out on his own 13 years ago.
“We are working a team of about 30 and to be honest I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help of Ricky Hunt. I’d be lost without him. He is the back-bone of our stable here at Menangle Park,” Alchin said.
He said he also had a lot of time for the 11-win Somebeachsomewhere gelding, Crunch Time, who has clocked a 1:49.6 mile rate.
"He won a Group Three in November and hopefully will take his place in the Chariots Of Fire next Saturday. He's a lovely gelding who went under 1:50 when winning a $10,000 race at Menangle last October.
"I really like him, as I do Watts up Sunshine (eight wins from 16 starts) and Captain Crusader (five wins from 14 starts).”
Alchin said he really enjoyed breaking in and educating young horses – something he has done for almost half of his life.
“Once I would have 60 per cent breakers and 40 per cent racehorses on my property. Now it’s the other way around.
“But as for Queensland – I’ll definitely be back in the winter. What happens after then is anyone’s guess, but like I said the thought of setting up there is appealing,” Alchin said. “I’ve already bought a unit overlooking the peninsula at Redcliffe,” he added.