By Jordan Gerrans
Harrisville trainer Darren Johnstone was one of the last to realise his kennel star Maggie Moo Moo was about to claim the Queensland Distance Championship Final on Thursday evening at Albion Park.
Johnstone, who has only been training greyhounds for just over three years, is colour blind and will often have troubles deciphering the difference between the red and pink rug in a race at the track.
From the one alley, Maggie Moo Moo came out about third in the early stages and stuck to the rail and was eventually able to take over the race not long after going past the winning post for the first time.
In the pink rug, Darren Russell’s Tough As Teak was around the leaders for the first half of the trip and Johnstone was of the belief the outsider in the race was actually his dog.
“I lost sight of Maggie Moo Moo from the 710-metre boxes as they went past the post for the first time,” Johnstone said.
“I started watching the eight dog in the run and it was not until she went past the boxes again at the 710-metre mark that I realised she was in front.
“I was a little bit surprised that she led as quickly as she did.
“I do not have an issue seeing at Ipswich but at Albion with more open spaces and big lights, I tend to mix up the one and the eight, it can happen pretty quickly, and even the two with the stripes, I lose that one easily, also.
“It is the external lightning that makes it hard at times, it is not bad my eyesight – I just lose sight of them every now again and watch the wrong dog (laughs).”
Once Johnstone had realised his star dog was in front, she powered away from there, scoring by over four lengths in a time of 41.84 seconds.
The trainer has been colour blind his entire life and while he can pick the difference between red and pink close up, in the distance he will often confuse colours like orange, red and pink.
Maggie Moo Moo, placed at Group 1 level earlier this year, was the red-hot favourite to claim the Distance Final, going around at $1.15.
After drawing expertly in box one, Johnstone said he felt more pressure last night than he did when Maggie Moo Moo went around in Group races with her short quote with the TAB.
Johnstone, who bred the winner of 18 career races, thinks his kennel stars future lies in Victoria with not enough suitable staying races in the Sunshine State over the coming months.
He explained that the best part of blue bitch’s run is her final 100 metres of the 700-metre trip and did not want to run her over 600 metres in Queensland.
A Group 3 winner in June as well as being around the mark in Group 1 races earlier this year, Johnstone says he wants to enjoy the ride and journey with Maggie Moo Moo and not die wondering about what she could achieve in her career.
“I think I will need to look at sending her south, there is just not many races for her this time of year,” Johnstone said.
“I considered the Sydney Cup but everything that is happening down there, it may be best to look at Melbourne.
“There is some races in Victoria over the next few months that would suit her, she may have a break once she gets down there before racing, if we opt to go that way.
“Rob Britton has had the dog before and if we do decide to go to Victoria with her, I will look to speak to him about taking her on again, hopefully I can speak to him soon about it.
“I do not want to look back and wonder what the dog could have won, we want to enjoy the ride with her and give her every opportunity to see what she can do on a bigger stage.”