Geelong-based Alan Hunter can be considered a late starter to training ranks but the recently turned 50-year-old has always had a passion for racing.
His grandfather, Curly Burns, was a noted trainer around the Mallee districts of Victoria, notching around 600 winners in a 20-year career.
Hunter spent weekends and school holidays with his grandfather before drifting away from racing, eventually finding his way into the West Australian mining sector for a decade.
But horse racing was in the blood and on his return to Victoria in 1998, Hunter set about learning the industry from the ground up, enrolling in a course at Marcus Oldham College in Geelong.
“I thought if I’m going to do it, then I’d do it properly and also learn the business side of it as well,” Hunter said.
Stints with John Hawkes, Peter Morgan and Charlie Goggin as well as 12 months on a stud farm in South Australia prepared to step out on his own.
For Hunter, Flemington trainer Steve Richards is the major influence in his own career.
“I can’t speak highly enough of Steve. He opened the door for me,” Hunter said.
Hunter is out to break his metropolitan duck when he takes Rose Of Texas to Caulfield on Saturday for the Ewen Stafford Handicap.
Rose Of Texas, a seven-year-old, was mentally immature as a younger horse and one of the things Hunter learned from Richards was patience, which the trainer said Richards would find ironic.
“He’ll say I never had patience when I was with him,” Hunter said.
A six-time winner, Rose Of Texas gave apprentice Georgina Cartwright her first win at Warrnambool on December 27.
On Saturday Ben Thompson takes over the reins.
“He gets in very well at the weights with the claim of three kilos,” Hunter said.
“He’s got a good barrier and if he can get a good run he can be competitive.
“Hopefully we turn up on Saturday with the right horse and it’s the right timing for us.”