Johnson lets rip at Rotorua on three winners
‘‘She travelled real nice the whole way’’ Chris Johnson
Track conditions were tough at Rotorua on Sunday where the tough got the rewards.
Chris Johnson ventured north from his Canterbury base for the meeting in his premiership quest and he wasted no time in making an impression.
Johnson sits in second place on the premiership and began the day with 81 wins, eight behind the leader Danielle Johnson.
A tough resilient competitor, the veteran rider made his presence felt and topped his day with victory aboard Let Her Rip in a delayed Group III Rotorua Stakes.
The premiership gap narrowed by one in the first race on the programme as the South Island’s leading rider brought Good Vibes home for a 27-to-one upset win.
Graeme Rogerson gave a hand, choosing Johnson to ride Prodigal Son in the Craig Thom Memorial 1400 and the combination scored a gutsy win to close the gap further.
But it was Johnson’s third win that brought the greatest reward in the day’s $70,000 feature.
The start of the race was delayed significantly while St John personnel attended an oncourse patron.
Jockeys waited as the field paraded in the birdcage for around 25 minutes longer than anticipated until a replacement ambulance became available.
The delay didn’t bother the unflappable Johnson or the Shaun Ritchie-trained Let Her Rip.
‘‘She’s got a bit hot in the past,’’ Ritchie joked. ‘‘So maybe the delay worked in her favour.’’
Johnson settled the daughter of Rip Van Winkle just off the pace before working his magic and the pair surged clear of outsider New York Minute in second with favourite Underthemoonlight finishing on for third, the race run in 1:29.68 in the testing conditions.
‘‘She travelled real nice the whole way,’’ Johnson said.
Ritchie is likely to send the winner for a spell ‘‘unless the boys [owners] want to have one crack at Brisbane being that it’s wet over there’’. The owners are the Australian based team that raced the Group I performer Turn Me Loose from the stable of Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman.
Canterbury jockey Chris Johnson rode three Rotorua winners topped off by Let Her Rip’s win in the day’s fillies and mares feature.