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Darryl Hopes for Lightning to Strike Twice
Rocky trainer Darryl Johnston admits he’s taking a punt running his lightly raced speedster Aspen Lad in tomorrow’s Global Welding Supplies Lightning at Cluden Park.
The Bagger Vance gelding is unbeaten in two starts at Cluden over the 1000m, and has been installed early favourite for the short course feature.
While the four-year-old is tackling open horses for the first time, Johnston is hoping to repeat the stunning success he had in the race with Isa Tala in 2017.
“He loves the track and the shorter straight and there’s no doubt he’s got the ability,” Johnston said.
“It’s just hard to measure him up against the open horses for the first time.
“He showed he was back to his best and can run the time out on his own with his win at Cluden last start against the three-year-olds.
“There’ll be a lot of speed and it’ll be a lot tougher tomorrow, but he drops 5kg (54kg) and I expect him to run well.
“I could have run him in the 1000m benchmark race on Saturday but he would have got around 59kg against the likes of Ruby July and they’ll probably run a similar time to the Lightning anyway.
“So, with 54kg I thought we’re better off going this way.”
Johnston, who has been paraplegic since a race fall in 2007, has enjoyed great success as a trainer with a small team at Gracemere.
The north in particular has been a happy hunting ground.
“I’ve been pretty lucky in Townsville and I’m three for three wins in Cairns,” Johnston said.
“Isa Tala won the (Townsville) Lightning at 16-1 and then she did the same in Cairns. ”
The Lightning has attracted a quality line-up including the classy mare Bet On Love, Mackay Newmarket runner-up Brad, who will lump 64kg, the flying The Tenor, and the Brisbane performed Bold Xavvi.
Track specialist Beau Jet has won 8 from 18 starts over the Cluden 1000m but must contend with 61kg and barrier 11, while the in-form Temple Run and newcomer Dio D’Oro look the best of the local hopes.
Pictured: Lightning fast! Aspen Lad coasts to an impressive win for jockey Ashley Butler and trainer Darryl Johnston at Cluden last Saturday.
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