By Andrew Atkinson Exclusive
ERIC Alston is approaching 60 years in the Sport of Kings, the Lancashire born trainer having been apprentice jockey with Walter Wharton in the sixties.
On Saturday at Haydock Park Eric and his wife Susan, who have been married over 50 years, will saddle Maid In India in the Betway Achilles Stakes Listed race over 5 furlongs, with an entry in the Wokingham pencilled in.
A veteran of the turf Eric, mild mannered and softly spoken, is a gentleman, that holds the reins in the picturesque village stables of his home town Longton, on the outskirts of Preston.
Eric left school and went to work at trainer Eddie Duffy’s yard in Cheshire, prior to joining ‘Wally’ Wharton at his Wetherby, Yorkshire racing stable, riding as apprentice for three years – earning in today’s money little more than 12p a week!
In 1961, Eric, aged 17, won on Troilus in the Apprentices Handicap Plate.
Eric rode 11 winners as a jockey, prior to taking out a trainer’s licence in 1981, based at Edges Farm Stables.
Eric had Stack Rock in training in the nineties, a horse that had a plethora of success.
Legendary retired jockey Lester Piggott has rode for Eric, who also boasts former world snooker champion Peter Ebdon, owner of Poetry In Motion, which he trained.
Eric had dual Group 1 success in 2006 with stable star Reverence, winning the Nunthorpe Stakes and Haydock’s Sprint Cup, along with the Group 2 Temple Stakes.
Legendary stable ace Tedburrow, purchased for £6,000, won 21 races in a star studded career, that saw him race abroad, including 15 wins under Eric.
Noteable victories included back-to-back wins in the Group 3 Flying Five at Leopardstown in 1998 and 1999.
Tedburrow also won Newcastle’s Chipchase Stakes in 2000 an in 2002, at the age of 10; along with a remarkable trio of consecutive wins at the Roodeye, in Chester’s City Wall Stakes, in 1997, 1998 and 1999.
Former dairy farmer, Eric, who carried on the family business in Longton, used to rise at 4am – to milk the cows, bottle milk, deliver – then head for the races!
Work undertaken with Susan, who he met during their schooldays in Penwortham, Preston. They quit dairy farming in the mid-eighties.
Eric’s first winner as a trainer was Samanza, who won at Cartmel in 1978.Other noted stars at Edges Farm stables include Reverence, winning over £500,000 in prizemoney, Ridge Ranger, Blithe Spirit, Red Baron and Unshaken, to name a few.
On Saturday at Haydock Park five year old Maid In India, 12-1, is worthy of each way support in the 5 furlongs Betway Achilles Stakes.
Maid in India faces tough opposition in Danzeno, trained by Michael Appleby, ridden by Alistair Rawlinson, a strongly fancied 4-1 shot, along with Julie Camacho trained Judicial, with Graham Lee up.
Haydock also stages the Betway Pinnacle Stakes G3 race (2.25) over 1m 4f, with Roger Varian trained Pilaster, ridden by David Egan, noted at 8-1, good each way value.
The Betway Heed Your Hunch Handicap C3 race (1.45) sees David Simcock trained Predudice (13-2) entered, with Jamie Spencer up, an each way tip.
Sir Dancelot, trained by David Elsworth and ridden by Gerald Mosse, a distance winner, is tipped in the Betway John of Gaunt Stakes G3 C1 (3.35).
Entries, Oh This Is Us, trained by Richard Hannon, and Cardsharp, trained by Mark Johnston, are both noted each way.
Reflecting on Tedburrow, who Eric deemed a ‘horse in a million’, told me: “I’ve always been asked by racing enthusiasts about Tedburrow.
“Tedburrow, who had his own fan club, really was a horse in a million – having raced in Britain, Dubai, Hong Kong and Milan, Italy.