It's time for Our Jimmy Johnstone
Veteran pacer Our Jimmy Johnstone fared poorly in the random draw and faces a stern test from out wide at barrier seven in the $25,000 Landmark Midvale Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
He will clash with several top-flight performers, including The Bucket List, Shandale, Devendra, Talktomeurmattjesty, Zennart and Whozideawasthis but he has the strength and will-to-win to cause an upset and emerge triumphant after a frustrating sequence of five placings.
The New Zealand-bred nine-year-old was, once again, gallant in defeat over 2536m last Friday night when he started from the No. 7 barrier and worked hard in the breeze before finishing with great determination to be a half-length second to the pacemaker Bettors Fire, who sprinted over the final two quarters in 28.1sec. and 27.4sec.
It was a similar story the previous week when he finished second to Vultan Tin.
Ryan Warwick will again drive Our Jimmy Johnstone for Forrestdale trainer Skye Bond, who races the gelding in partnership with Rob Gartrell and a quartet of New Zealand owners, including Alexander O’Donnell and his daughter Dani McRae.
The gelding was named after a famous Scottish soccer player, the diminutive red-haired winger Jimmy Johnstone, who is widely acclaimed as Celtic’s greatest player.
O’Donnell, born in England and brought up in Scotland where he was an avid Celtic fan, moved to Christchurch in New Zealand about 20 years ago.
Our Jimmy Johnstone was bred and owned in his early racing days by Ken McRae, who sold shares in the gelding in 2013. McRae paid $135 for a ticket to a Caduceus Club cabaret in 2008. The ticket included a raffle for a free service to American stallion P Forty Seven. McRae didn’t attend the cabaret, but won the raffle and Our Jimmy Johnstone is the result.
Our Jimmy Johnstone has earned $563,873 from 25 wins 23 seconds and 14 thirds from 90 starts. His wins have included the 2016 Bunbury Cup and the Governor’s Cup, Albany Cup, Members Sprint and RWWA Cup in 2017. He was out of action for nine months in 2015, recovering from a leg fracture received when he was kicked by another horse.
Michael Grantham is confident that The Bucket List, trained by his uncle Michael Brennan, will prove to be hard to beat after starting from barrier two on the back line. He describes the eight-year-old as a gelding with an awesome turn of foot.
Grantham, who has recovered from a fractured right hand, last drove The Bucket List three starts ago when the New Zealand-bred gelding sustained a dazzling burst of speed from the rear to race away and win a 2503m stand by almost nine lengths, setting a track record with a rate of 1.57.1.
The Mike Reed-trained Shandale will have many admirers from barrier three after his encouraging first-up third behind Bettors Fire and Our Jimmy Johnstone last Friday night, while Zennart (barrier one) and Devendra (two) should be prominent from their favourable draws.
Zennart, the winner at ten of his 18 starts, will appreciate the inside draw after starting out wide at his past eight starts. Devendra, a speedy beginner and noted frontrunner, warmed up for this week’s assignment with an easy victory in a 2116m standing-start trial at Pinjarra on Sunday morning when he led for the first 550m and then trailed the pacemaker Bettor Reward before finishing powerfully to win, unextended, with final quarters of 28.6sec. and 27.9sec.
Talktomeurmattjesty, trained in Busselton by Barry Howlett, has wonderful potential and has had 22 starts for 11 wins and eight placings. He will be tested from barrier eight.
Seven-year-old Whozideawasthis has struck a purple patch for leading trainer Gary Hall Snr, with his six starts this preparation producing four wins and two seconds. He will start from the No. 6 barrier and faces a steep rise in class.