Norm Hilton is now a former Queensland trainer with Carry Me Bluey to be the first runner from his Newcastle stable when he lines up in Saturday’s Australia Day Cup at Warwick Farm.
Hilton and a friend left Toowoomba on Saturday and drove through the night in two different trucks to transport the 12 horses that are now in residence on Newcastle racecourse.
The decision to pack up his family and his business was not one the 57-year-old Hilton made lightly but the lure of better prize money and value for his clients made it easier.
“The better prize money played the biggest part in the move,” Hilton said.
“I had been thinking about it for around 18 months and my owners have been very supportive.
“I’ve got 16 boxes on course at Newcastle and the other four will be filled soon.
“I had Bold Glance at Warwick Farm when I brought him down for the (2011) Doncaster. The training facilities were great but I didn’t think I could handle living in Sydney.
“We are living on 120 acres up here so there is plenty of room for the kids’ ponies and the cats and dogs.
“It’s pretty exciting.”
What is also exciting for Hilton is the opportunity to test Carry Me Bluey over 2400 metres for the first time in Saturday’s Listed race which has attracted 19 entries.
The five-year-old is a last-start winner over 2100m at Eagle Farm in January 5 and will have Glyn Schofield in the saddle on Saturday.
“It gives us a bit of confidence he will run the journey,” Hilton said.
“It is still an experiment so we haven’t really looked beyond Saturday yet.”
The winner of nine of his 31 starts, Carry Me Bluey finds himself in illustrious company against a field which includes Group One winners Fiumicino and Shadows Of The Sun and Group One placegetters Tullamore and Reuben Percival.
The Gai Waterhouse-trained Tullamore, third in the 2011 Caulfield Cup, is topweight with 59kg with stablemate Reuben Percival, third in the Metropolitan, on 57.5kg.
Ironstein is next on 56.5kg with veteran Fiumicino (55.5kg) the only other entry above the minimum 54kg.
The field is restricted to 18 runners with Savage Blaze the lowest rated nomination.