‘He is pretty special, that’s for sure’
HORSE RACING: Rockhampton has unearthed another star juvenile in the form of yesterday’s sensational Mackay winner Aspen Lad.
Trained at Callaghan Park racecourse by Darryl Johnston, Aspen Lad (ch g 2 Bagger Vance -Sonador Rose) belied his detractors who decreed he would not run out the 1200m distance by doing so with 3.8 lengths to spare.
Contesting the $31K QTIS 2YO Handicap (1200m) and carrying 60kg, Aspen Lad jumped straight to the front for Tolga jockey Wanderson D’Avila from where he ran his rivals ragged.
Fellow Rockhampton rivals, Adrian Coome’s Starfilly (Brad Pengelly) and Zoe Hohn’s Dacxi Kaboom) Beau-Dene Appo), filled the minor placings.
In winning his third race from four starts, Aspen Lad ($1.40) took his stake earnings for owners Diane Reck, trainer Johnston and Murray Fitzroy to over $60k.
There was conjecture aplenty leading into the race as to whether Aspen Lad a speedy winner over 1000m and 950m at Townsville and Cairns would get the 1200m trip at Mackay.
Even Johnston admitted that there was a concern in his mind but he said his star would be given his chance.
“The distance was always a niggling worry but there was only one way to find out and that was to run him,” Johnston said.
His young star answered in the most emphatic way by winning so brilliantly, albeit with contempt for his rivals.
“He is pretty special, that’s for sure,” Johnston said immediately after the win.
Tolga jockey Wanderson D’Avila stood in for Aspen’s Lad regular jockey and leader of his fan squad, Natalea Summers, and he made no bones about his thoughts as he dismounted in the winners’ stall.
“Take him straight down south as he is too good for these,” D’Avila said.
In hindsight, the fact that Wanderson drove 722km from Tolga for the ride on Aspen Lad was a big tip in itself.
Johnston had planned to run Aspen Lad at Doomben last Saturday but when he drew widely, he wisely scratched and chose Mackay instead.
Now however, he intends to push the go-fast button and give Aspen Lad a chance in a QTIS 2YO Handicap (1000m) at the Sunshine Coast on Saturday week.
“He deserves his chance there but if for some reason we decide against that, there is a back-up plan to come back to Mackay for a QTIS race there again.
“One thing is for certain, after that he heads off to the paddock for a rest,” Johnston said.