After more than 20 years as a trainer in the United States, Murray Johnson kicked off the latest chapter of his training career in style today with a winner from his first Australian runner.
Overcome with emotion after Correggio claimed the $15,000 Happy 60th Birthday Tom Bishop 0-62 Handicap (1309m), when asked what the result meant to him Johnson had to choke back the tears.
“It’s what we do it for,” Johnson said.
“He’s a quality horse, he wasn’t one hundred per cent fit but I told his owners before the race that if he was one hundred per cent fit then he’d beat them easily.
“He’s a good horse and good horses make us (trainers) look good.”
Formerly in the care of leading trainer Peter Moody, Johnson said the horse was transferred to him by one of his school friends Michael Ramsden.
“I went to school with one of his owners Michael Ramsden and his father originally owned the horse in partnership with Coolmore when it was trained by Peter Moody,” Johnson said.
“The horse has had a few problems and the original owners wanted to sell him so Michael put together a group of owners who were good enough to put him in my stable.”
Last seen finishing fifth in the Listed Geelong Classic (2200m) in October last year, Johnson said his initial concern was just to make sure the horse pulls up well from today’s run.
“With a horse like him you’ve just got to hope he can stay in work for long enough so that he can get out to a distance where he can show his best.”
After jumping with only two runners behind him, jockey Cory Parish allowed Correggio ($12) to stride around the field into third position prior to the home turn before the three-year-old pulled his way to the lead at the top of the home straight.
Travelling strongly in the middle of the track, Correggio proved too good in the run to the line scoring a 2.3 length win over Lashed Out ($4.40) who was narrowly ahead of Resetalenko ($6) in third position.
Despite the nature of the victory, Parish said Correggio wasn’t an easy horse to ride.
“You have to kid to him a bit, if you don’t hit him with the whip and just growl at him then he finds the line really well,” Parish said.
“He travelled up really well and when he got to the best part of the track he kicked on strongly.
“I was already stuck three-wide on the corner so I didn’t really want to go back to the fence (in the straight) and he seemed to appreciate being out in the middle of the track.”
Story by Ben Asgari and Brad Bishop