Derby winner nearing return
The raceday return of Gr.1 Victoria Derby (2500m) winner Johnny Get Angry is imminent after his pleasing 800m jump-out at Flemington last Friday.
Trainer Denis Pagan is now weighing up whether to kick the New Zealand-bred’s campaign off in the Gr.3 Aurie’s Star Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on August 7, or Gr.2 PB Lawrence Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield a week later.
Johnny Get Angry has not raced since winning the Derby at Flemington last October.
He returned to work earlier this year, but Pagan elected to take a cautious approach with the three-year-old when he pulled up ‘scratchy’ one morning and he decided to focus on the spring.
Pagan was pleased with the son of Tavistock’s hit-out on Friday and is looking forward to the spring, where his ultimate aim is the Gr.1 Melbourne Cup (3200m).
"It was a fast trial. He was out the back, but he pleased me and came through it okay," Pagan said.
"He'll either start in the Aurie's Star or the P B Lawrence, but I'll just see how he goes. I don't want to be getting too far ahead of myself.”
In favouring the Aurie's Star, Pagan said the straight 1200m would be a good hit-out for his charge, and he is thinking of giving him three jump-outs prior to his return.
"But if there's a race, down the straight at Flemington, I'm sure he'll gain more benefit from that than he would in another 800m spin around on a Friday morning," Pagan said.
"That's the mentality, but I've got to play it by ear."
Johnny Get Angry was sourced as a yearling at Karaka, with Pagan’s good friend Troy Corstens securing the son of Tavistock for $50,000 from the draft of Bradbury Park.
Laurie Laxon to be remembered with memorial service
A memorial service for Hall of Fame trainer Laurie Laxon, who passed away late last week at his Whitianga home, will be held at a yet to be scheduled date.
The decision by Laxon’s family will enable many who could not be immediately present to come together and remember his outstanding contribution to racing both in New Zealand and internationally.
Fifth winner for Ribchester
The Ed Bethell-trained newcomer Exminster became the fifth first-crop winner from 28 runners by Haunui Farm shuttler Ribchester when winning over 1400m at Redcar on Sunday.
Ridden by PJ McDonald, he tracked the leaders, was ridden over a furlong from home and went on to win by half a length from previous winner Truely Aclaimed, while there was the same distance to Euraquilo in third.
He is out of an Empire Maker sister to American Grade 2 winner Surya, who in turn produced the Grade 1 winner Aruna.
In a glittering career on the track, Ribchester won four Group One races and placed in a further six races at elite-level, on his way to being crowned Europe’s Champion Miler in 2016 and 2017.
The son of Iffraaj will shuttle to Haunui Farm’s Karaka property later this year, where he will stand for a fee of NZ$15,000+GST.