Andrew Carston has Oaks ambitions for Major Ish Choux.
Riccarton trainer Andrew Carston is quickly developing into a major player in the South Island training ranks, and he may have a horse capable of raising his profile to a whole new level.
The 36-year-old conditioner will target the Gr. 1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand Oaks with talented three-year-old filly Major Ish Choux, a convincing winner over 1400 metres at Kurow last Saturday.
“At this stage she is heading towards the Oaks,” Carston said. “She was very impressive first-up at Kurow. She is by Jimmy Choux out of a Don Eduardo mare, so we’re confident that she will stay.
“She was pretty underdone the other day, so what she has done she can definitely improve on. I’m looking forward to heading down that path and hopefully we get there.”
Carston has a great association with her sire Jimmy Choux, with another of his progeny helping kick-start Carston’s training career.
He purchased What Choux Want out of Rich Hill Stud’s 2015 New Zealand Bloodstock Select Yearling Sale Draft for $14,000. She went on to place twice at stakes level for Carston in his first season of training, as well as running fifth in the Karaka Million.
Now in his third full season of training, Carston currently sits on 55 career victories and just shy of $1 million in prize-money.
He was attracted to the racing industry from an early age. His grandfather was a racing reporter, while his two uncles were a jockey/trainer and an owner.
Born and bred in Christchurch, Carston began his racing career under the guidance of local trainers Barrie Taggart and Les Didham while he was still at school. After finishing school he moved north to Cambridge, where he had stints with Chris and Colleen Wood and Roger James, before spending the best part of a decade working for Te Akau.
“I was the foreman for Te Akau and I did a lot of travelling with the good horses - Darci Brahma and Princess Coup mainly,” Carston said.
“That was a massive experience and they put a lot of faith in me to take those horses to Australia, so that gave me a lot of confidence. Mark (Walker) was outstanding, I still think he is the best trainer I have worked for. When he went to Singapore, that’s when I moved on.”
Carston then moved home to head John Sargent’s Christchurch stable, where he stayed for two years before moving across the Tasman to help Sargent set up his Sydney operation.
“I was in Sydney for two years before deciding I might as well have a go myself,” he said. “When I came home I did about six months as South Island trainer for Lisa Latta before she shut her South Island stable.
“Luckily for me she left me the horses and owners, so she was a big influence. Lisa was instrumental in getting me started, without her I wouldn’t be where I am now.”
One of those owners was syndication operation Go Racing, the owners of Major Ish Choux.
“They had horses with Lisa’s South Island stable, so I spoke with Albert Bosma and Matt Allnutt and they were keen to keep the horses in the South Island and we’ve had a good relationship,” Carston said. “I currently train about six horses for them.”
Another of Carston’s Go Racing-owned charges is Frazzle, who he suggests is the best of his nine runners at Greymouth on Sunday.
“I thought Frazzle was probably my best bet,” he said. “She’s a last start winner. I think she is away now hopefully, she’s had a win so let’s hope she can continue on with that.”