By Isaac Murphy
Former post office owners Darren and Sue Johnstone have grand plans to deliver more winners out of their Harrisville kennels after Daisy Dreams gave them a maiden Thursday night triumph at Albion last week.
Daisy Dreams, a rising four-year-old, will jump from the yellow box in the Marburg Hotel 520m tonight, where Johnstone expects a sterner test for his bitch that has won five from her past six.
“It’s a tougher race than last week, but if she jumps in front which she normally does to the first corner it’s up to them to catch her and it could be a similar result to last week,” Johnstone said.
“She’s never been a 500-metre dog, but I’ve stepped her up to the trip because she’s a top grader over the short course.
“She started to put the short ones in over the last twenty last week and I’m not sure she’ll ever get that strong 520, but if she leads she’s shown she can win.”
Daisy Dreams is far more than just a greyhound for Johnstone, his association with the sprinter dates back to when he first became involved in the greyhound industry.
“I first got into the greyhounds five or six years ago with syndicates in Melbourne and I had a 10% share in her mother Stay Warm who was a very good short course dog winning seventeen races,” Johnstone said.
“She went on to have a litter and I thought I’d really like to buy one and ended up getting Daisy Dreams who has been the most successful of the litter and that’s how it all started for me.”
There was one problem for Johnstone when he brought Daisy Dreams up from Melbourne, he didn’t have a trainer’s license and received some sobering news when he sent her to be broken in.
“The place I sent her to break her the bloke came back and told me she was no good and to get rid of her and I was just cut to pieces, my first dog and he’s telling me that, “Johnstone said.
“Thankfully I held on to her and put her under the care of David Fitzgerald where she won five or six races, I was rapt things had come full circle, I was still searching for that hands-on engagement though.”
As Daisy Dream flourished so did Johnstone’s interest in becoming a full-time trainer, but he had a big hurdle to overcome, convincing his wife Sue.
“It was about eighteen months ago when my wife Sue and I were running the post office I said I want to get into greyhounds and she said you’ll be doing it by yourself!”, Johnstone laughed.
“She had no interest in the dogs didn’t want anything to do with them, but since we bought our Harrisville property I can’t get her away from them now.”
“She just went on a holiday to America for a few weeks and she can’t stop calling asking how her bubbas are, she doesn’t worry about me!”
Darren’s training dream was officially fulfilled, but after a stellar twelve months the trainer is hungry for more success.
“I’ve got sixteen dogs at the moment including pups, it’s a relatively small team for now but considering where we started we’ve come a long way,” he said.
“There are four in work at the moment, six breakers three who have been broken in and three to go in the next few months, so the goal is late in the year to have ten to twelve dogs racing.”
Johnstone credits respected trainer Dave Fitzgerald as the mentor he needed to move forward and grow his own kennel.
“I’ve got a very good relationship with Daisy Dreams ex-trainer Dave Fitzgerald who had her for five or six of her wins, Dave has been a real mentor for me, he’s someone I can constantly go to for advice and has really helped me get off the ground,” Johnstone said.
“I take a great deal of pride in the fact that when I got my trainers license and got her back I was able to continue the success he started.”
Johnstone said he simply “couldn’t have done it”, without his wife Sue who had fully embraced their new life.”
“She looks after that pups and I look after the race dogs, when I come home she’s done all the dinners, and everything is taken care of,” he said.
Daisy Dreams clocked 30.42 in winning the Marburg Hotel 520 metres last week a relatively innocuous result for a Thursday night, but for Johnstone the night meant so much more.
“Last Thursday night was a milestone in getting to twenty wins for Daisy and also giving us our first Thursday night winner,” Johnstone said.
“It was just a sense of relief I’ve been through so much with her and to accomplish that and come out the other side was very fulfilling.”
“It’s only early days for me and a few wins don’t make a career, but I’ve got a really strong vision of where I want to go with it in the future.”