Yorkshire handler Craig Lidster admits he has been humbled by the chance to train Macarone for the Rob Burrow Racing Club as he sets his sights on a fitting Pontefract date later this month.
Burrow’s battle with motor neurone disease has touched the hearts of the nation and has also left a lasting impression on the Easingwold-based handler, who has relished the opportunity to train for the racing club that raises money for charity in the former England and Leeds Rhinos star’s name.
Lidster has recorded 30 winners so far in his fledgling training career, but none meant as much to him as Macarone’s maiden triumph at Beverley last month, which came on his first start in the Rob Burrow Racing Club colours.
And although injuring his back on the gallops a day before Macarone broke his duck, Lidster was trackside to witness the son of Havana Grey open his account in the hands of Paul Hanagan, who not long afterwards announced his retirement from the saddle.
He said: “We were thrilled to bits to get that win at Beverley and it was special as it was one of Paul’s last rides.
“It’s an honour to train for Rob. People asked me before Macarone won what was the pinnacle of my training career and I would say watching Julie Camacho and Steve Brown win Group Ones with Shaquille because they are very good friends of mine.
“But to go and top that with Macarone winning for the Rob Burrow Racing Club was a massive pleasure and humbling.
“I had broken my back the day before (in an accident on the gallops) and people were saying ‘what are you doing here?’. But when you turn around and see people in a worse situation than you, there was no way I was going to miss that in a million years.”
Having now got off the mark, Macarone will now attempt to climb the ratings at Thirsk in a bid to secure his place in a Pontefract nursery later this month.
It would be an appropriate climax to the youngster’s juvenile campaign with the race taking place in Burrow’s home town and at the closest racecourse to Leeds where he made his name in the Rhinos’ jersey.
“He is going to go to Thirsk on Monday,” continued Lidster.
“The main target is Pontefract on September 28 which is Rob’s home track so we would like to get Macarone to Rob’s home turf. The race is a 0-78 so we would like to come up the weights a bit to make sure we get in there.
“He’s a nice horse and a nice prospect going forward and with Rob Burrow taking him on, both myself and Steve (Burdett, the horse’s previous owner) were really keen to help Rob in any way we can.
“It’s a massive cause for such a lovely fella and we just couldn’t turn down helping.”