By Glenn Davis
Miles trainer Bevan Johnson hopes to cap off another stellar year with a win from one of his four runners in the Country Cups Challenge at Doomben on Saturday.
Johnson was named Queensland Country Trainer of the Year for the second year in a row at the 2018 UBET Queensland Thoroughbred Awards in September.
Johnson took out the accolade in 2017 after a similar stellar season and has continued to dominate country racing with a team of around 30 horses.
Johnson travels thousands of kilometres each week attending race meetings in far west and northern Queensland as well as sending horses interstate to the Northern Rivers.
He is one of Queensland’s biggest supporters of country racing and rides all his horses in work.
Johnson will be represented in the Country Cups Challenge by Fab’s Cowboy, Artie’s Shore, Blue Jest and Still The Same but had mixed luck in the barrier draw with his four-pronged attack.
Blue Jest, who won the iconic Birdsville Cup in September, drew barrier 20 while topweight Fab’s Cowboy drew gate 18.
The pair will come in significantly if the six emergencies fail to secure starts.
Artie’s Shore fared better drawing in the middle of the field in gate nine while Still The Same drew seven.
An interesting engagement is premier jockey Jeff Lloyd who will ride Still The Same.
Like most of Johnson’s team, Still The Same was an interstate purchase who had four previous trainers including Sydney’s Alan Denham before joining the stable 18 months ago.
In that time, Still The Same has won eight times including the Kumbia Cup (1400m) when he dead-heated with Land Office on November 6.
Johnson’s wife Melanie is the backbone of the Johnson stable and buys most of the stable’s runners.
“I buy all our horses. I have a few agents who send me the details of horses every day,” she said.
“I get around 20 horses who are up for sale every day.”
Melanie Johnson said it was too difficult to separate the stable’s runners.
“It’s a mile and a tough race but it’s a big thrill for our owners to have a runner in town,” she said.
“I feel a little sorry for our top weighted horses (Blue Jest and Fab’s Cowboy) but with good rides they’re still good chances.
“We managed to get Jeff (Lloyd) on Still The Same when one of his owners suggested we try him.
“Jeff jumped at it as he said he ran second on him one day at Randwick when he was just starting his career.”
Racing Queensland webnews November 29