Warwick Opts for Our Jimmy Johnstone

Ryan Warwick, the State’s leading reinsman, has given punters a massive lead by choosing to drive veteran pacer Our Jimmy Johnstone in the $50,000 Governor’s Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

He has enjoyed remarkable success with all of the five Cup runners prepared by leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond and he elected to drive the 11-year-old Our Jimmy Johnstone, a marvel who will be having his 129th start in a race when he begins from the favourable No. 2 barrier on the front line in the 2130m feature event.

Warwick has handled Our Jimmy Johnstone in only one of his past 18 starts and that was when the New Zealand-bred gelding began speedily from barrier five and stormed to the front after 500m on his way to an easy victory over Whozideawasthis and Ideal Liner at a 1.53.5 rate over 1730m three starts ago.

Warwick has been in the sulky for 13 of Our Jimmy Johnstone’s 20 wins in Western Australia. He has driven star pacer Galactic Star in all of his 19 WA wins, Vampiro at 18 of his 21 WA wins, Our Alfie Romeo at 16 of her 17 WA wins and El Jacko at 16 of his 20 wins in the State.

Our Jimmy Johnstone excelled in the major summer carnival events, finishing fifth behind Caviar Star and Vampiro in the 2536m Fremantle Cup and a close third to stablemates Mighty Conqueror and Vampiro in the 2936m WA Pacing Cup.

Our Jimmy Johnstone will be contesting the Governor’s Cup for the fourth time. He was second favourite at 5/2 when, driven by Warwick, he led from the No. 6 barrier and won by two lengths at a 1.55.2 rate from Red Salute, with Im Full of Excuses in third place in 2017 before finishing seventh (from barrier six) behind Chicago Bull in 2018 and a fading tenth behind Rocknroll Lincoln 12 months ago.

On Friday night Kim Prentice will drive El Jacko from the No. 3 barrier, Colin Brown will handle the in-form Vampiro from barrier nine, Dylan Egerton-Green has been engaged to drive the brilliant Galactic Star (inside of the back line) for the first time, and Michael Grantham will handle Our Alfie Romeo (the only mare in the race) from the No. 2 barrier on the back line.

Six-year-old Vampiro is in superb form, with three wins from his past six starts and head seconds behind Caviar Star in the Fremantle Cup and behind Mighty Conqueror in the WA Pacing Cup at his past two runs.

Remarkably, Vampiro has started from the No. 9 barrier in both the big Cup events in which he began brilliantly, dashed to an early lead and was defeated in desperately close photo finishes. Again, Vampiro and Brown will have to contend with the outside barrier this week.

Brown is almost certain to attempt to charge to the front with Vampiro, but it is somewhat problematical that the gelding will be able to get straight to the front, with speedy beginners Rock Me Over (Shannon Suvaljko) drawn favourably at barrier one, Our Jimmy Johnstone at No. 2 and Talktomeurmattjesty (Kyle Harper) at barrier six.

Galactic Star was far from disgraced last Friday night when he raced without cover in the breeze and finished fourth behind Handsandwheels over 2130m last Friday night. He can never be under-estimated.

An eye-catching run in that event was handed in by the Debra Lewis-trained Bill Haley, who was restrained from barrier eight and was last at the bell before flashing home, out five wide, to finish fifth. Again, he is awkwardly drawn at barrier seven this week, but capable of causing an upset.   

Fremantle Cup winner Caviar Star’s prospects slumped when he drew out wide at barrier eight, but reinsman Gary Hall Jnr has not given up hope, saying: “It’s tough, but not impossible. He’s too good a horse to leave out.”

Handsandwheels, an effortless all-the-way winner from barrier one in the 2130m Group 2 City of Perth Cup last Friday night, fared poorly in the draw this week and will start from the outside of the back line.

“Twelve is not as bad as some draws, but it is definitely not favourable,” said trainer-reinsman Aiden de Campo. “However, he’ll run a good race. He’s not purely a frontrunner and he has progressed well this week after his win last Friday night.

Handsandwheels started from barrier two on the back line in the Governor’s Cup 12 months ago when he moved to the breeze after a lap and then gained a good sit in the one-out, one-back position. He was hampered for room until the final 100m before finishing strongly to be fourth behind Rocknroll Lincoln.

Two starts ago, Handsandwheels showed his class as a sit-sprinter when he was tenth at the 500m before finishing fast to be fourth behind Mighty Conqueror in the WA Pacing Cup.