By Isaac Murphy
Maggie Moo Moo had already garnered the respect of the Queensland racing public before her barnstorming performance in last month’s Group 1 Association Cup at Wentworth Park gave her national recognition.
Trainer Darren Johnstone is looking to keep the ball rolling with the bitch rugging up at Sandown Park on Thursday night in preparation for the Group 1 Sandown Cup.
The bitch had been punishing Free For All fields at home but hadn’t been tested at Group level until her trip to Sydney where she passed with flying colours, the only problem for Johnstone was finding the right races.
“She’s established herself as a 700-metre bitch and it’s really about keeping her race fitness up which has been a struggle of late,” he said.
“I was going to leave her in Sydney for a week after the Association Cup but there was no 700-metre race and then when I brought her back to Brisbane there weren’t enough nominations for a Free For All.
“I didn’t want to lose all the residual fitness she’d built up, so I made the snap decision to get in touch with Robbie Britton and sent her down there about a fortnight ago, to prepare for Thursday’s run and then the Sandown Cup.”
Maggie Moo Moo meets a familiar foe tomorrow night and is well in the market to run well first up in Victoria.
“She comes up against Floral Lace who Graham and Leanne Hall raced up here on Thursday nights, she’s been going well down there and we’d been beating her at home, so we hope that form stands up,” Johnstone said.
“I don’t know much about the rest of the field outside her, but I’ve had a look at the odds and she’s in commission as a clear second-elect, so people have clearly seen what she’s capable of.
“I think between her performance in Sydney and a recent trial where she went neck and neck with Here’s Tears has raised her profile a bit, I know the Catching Pen gave her a rap as one to watch, it’s nice to get some recognition.”
Johnstone says both he and Maggie Moo Moo have taken a lot from her first trip away and have her better prepared for the classic race.
“Having the experience of sending her down for the Association Cup has definitely helped second time around, I knew I wanted to get her a trial at the track which Robbie gave her last Wednesday and find a lead in race which she gets tomorrow night,” he said.
“She went within half a length of winning a Group 1 in New South Wales, this is a step up in class again, but you don’t want to be sitting at home wondering how she might have gone - her performances deserve a chance.
“The conservative option would have been to leave her at home and go over the 600 with the Listed Carnival Chase, but I’d much rather set her a tougher task over her right distance.”