By Glenn Davis
Stan Johnston, country racing’s greatest supporter, is hoping the long haul to north Queensland will pay dividends at Cluden Park in Townsville on Thursday.
Johnston is the principal at Craiglea Stud at Kenilworth in the Sunshine Coast hinterland and travels thousands of kilometres each week with horses who are trained by his daughter, Kristel.
Johnston will be in charge of the Craiglea team as Kristel stayed at home for barrier trials on Tuesday while she also has Craiglea Wandoo engaged at the Gold Coast on Wednesday.
Johnston mainly seeks out the lucrative QTIS prizemoney on offer from Racing Queensland and has sent four runners north, two of which will contest both QTIS races for two and three-year-olds at Cluden Park.
Craiglea Hailee will be his first runner in the QTIS Two-Year-Old Maiden Handicap (1000m) followed by Craiglea Unit (Maiden Plate), Craiglea Velvet (QTIS Three-Year-Old Handicap) and Craiglea Ceon (Class Two Handicap).
“I left Kenilworth at dinner time on Monday night and stopped off in our depot in Rockhampton,” Johnston said.
“Then we went to Mackay for the races yesterday and I’m having a day off today (Wednesday) before we head to another of our depots at Bowen and then onto Townsville on Thursday.”
Johnston has named Craiglea Velvet as the stable’s best hope despite the three-year-old’s last start sixth to Grey Missile on a heavy track at Cairns on February 10.
“So long as the track is dry, Craiglea Velvet is our best chance,” Johnston said.
"Of our others, I'd say they all are good place chances."
Johnston has booked promising Rockhampton apprentice Elyce Smith whose three-kilogram claim reduces Craiglea Velvet’s weight to 56 kilograms.
“Elyce is very good and has a lot of potential,” Johnston said.
Johnston started Craiglea Stud with one stallion and a handful of mares after converting his property to a spelling complex in 1974.
He now has five stallions and more than 250 horses, mostly broodmares on his Kenilworth property.
It’s been a real family affair, with Stan’s wife, Marilyn, also playing a major role in the Craiglea Stud operation.
Racing Queensland webnews February 21