By Duane Ranger
Between races four and five at Albion Park on Saturday an unassuming retired GP sat amidst the Albion Park patrons and watched his powerhouse 3-year-old pace his way into Victoria Derby favouritism.
While Dr John Mammino saw Governor Jujon and his trainer, Grant Dixon, annihilate their eight opponents by 9.3 metres in the second Derby heat at Ballarat, surprisingly his thoughts weren’t entirely on winning the prestigious $200,000 event at Melton’s Tabcorp Park next Saturday.
“It’s just awesome to think I own one of the favourites for the Group One Victoria Derby, but it would have been great to share this pacer with Judy (wife). She put up with me persevering with a few average horses over the years - and now I’ve finally got a real good one.
“Sadly, Judy passed away nine years ago. She was my rock. But she’s still with me and her name always appears in the racebook. This horse, and several others I own have Judy’s and my name in it (Jujon),” Dr Mammino said.
The quietly spoken Dr Mammino was at Albion Park watching the Dixon trained Major Generaljujon finish fourth in race two and then Matron Jujon run third in race five.
But it was a $24,000 – 2,710m staying test at 8.13pm at Ballarat that really spiked his interest.
Dr Mammino was there to watch the best horse he had owned in more than four decades of standardbred ownership win his eighth race in 10 starts.
Governor Jujon and Dixon never looked like letting Dr Mammino and their army of $1.50 favourite punters down.
The gifted son of Cammibest and Fifth Broadway (Western Terror) pounced out of gate two, and then led all the way giving nothing else a chance. Perfect Stride and Anthony Butt were 9.3 metres back in second.
Governor Jujon stopped the clock in 3:19 (mile rate 1:58.2. His sectionals were 29 even, 31.2, 28.8, and 27.5.
The bay/brown colt has now banked $166,787 since making his winning debut at Albion Park on May 25 last year. Not bad for an $18,000 purchase at the 2018 Redcliffe Yearling Sale.
“I waited 41 years to win my first Group One – and that was last June in the Redcliffe 2yo Pace. I also ran second that day with Signor Jujon. He cost me $3,000 at the same Sale,” Dr Mammino said.
“I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself, but to win the Victoria Derby would be a dream come true. I’ve given a lot to the sport over the years and loved every minute of it. He’s a sensational colt who has a very good trainer and driver. I’m very proud and very excited,” Dr Mammino said.
“I was at Bill’s (Dixon) funeral the other day. He was a good friend of mine. I’d love to see the horse win for the Dixon family,” he added.
Before the draws were made today (Monday) the TAB had Governor Jujon priced at a healthy $2.75.
Dr John Mammino was a recipient of Racing Queensland’s ‘Chairman’s Award’ at the annual harness racing awards in Brisbane late last year.
Meanwhile, Queensland will have three participants in Saturday’s Derby thanks two placings in the other two heats.
The Dixon trained and driven Virgil, who finished 10 metres behind Line Up and Anthony Butt in heat three, is owned by Queenslanders, Greg and Sharon Mitchell.
The Damien Burns trained and driven Youaremy Sunshine, who also finished third, in the first heat, was sired by the ill-fated Hurrikane Kingcole at Egmont Park Stud.
DAWSON’S PERSONAL BEST SATURDAY NIGHT
If Governor Jujon was the ‘Queensland Horse-of-the-Weekend’, then Nathan Dawson was ‘Individual Star’.
The 24-year-old Tamborine horseman drove a personal best four of the 10 winners at Albion Park on Saturday night, including his best training feat to date.
“Training and driving Change Of Mind to win race three was a highlight because I purposely only train a small team of three or four and that was a nice race to win.
“We got the passing lane run and he’s been a good horse over time. He’s still got it, which is pleasing. I think I could be in for good night,” Dawson said at 7.25pm.
He then went on to win race six with the Rob Gorman (Buccari) trained Major Lucky; race seven with the Richard March (Warwick) trained Our Major Day; and race 10 with the Greg Franklin (Redcliffe) Our Bondi Beach.
“I’ve only had a handful of training wins, so it means a lot to drive for other trainers. They all had their horses spot on tonight. The races worked out well,” he said.
Dawson, who has driven around 500 winners, has developed into one of Queensland’s best reinsmen. He said he wouldn’t be the driver he is today had owners, trainers and breeders not given him a chance and then believed in him.
Trainers like Aileen Smith, who provided Dawson with his career highlight on June 20 last year when he drove Jiggle And Jive to win the 2yo Fillies Triad.
“That is my only Group One win so far. Aileen gave me drives when I first started out seven or eight years ago and some people like her have also stuck by me. It was an honour to drive a Group One winner for Aileen’s family.
“Training a winner is special,” Dawson. said.
Change Of Mind’s 1:54.1 mile rate was the quickest of Dawson’s four winners.
“He’s eight now and still hasn’t lost it. He’s by Changeover and could go on for a bit yet. I’m very proud of him and the win,” Dawson said.
Dawson has had Change Of Mind for six starts, and had two wins and a second since getting him off Peter and Chantal McMullen in late October.
Change Of Mind has now won 23 of his 130 starts since making his debut with a third for Peter Greig at Albion Park in October 2014.
All up he’s now banked $173,824. He also has a 1:51.1 mile rate beside his name.
“That win capped off a very good night. Thanks to everyone for the good wishes,” Dawson said.