Stroll around home track is Road to victory for Johnstone

November 09, 2017

Wide Open Road, ridden by Jarrod Fry, leads the pack at Echuca on Melbourne Cup Day.

Gwenda Johnstone flew the Melbourne Cup day flag for locals at Echuca racecourse when her horse Wide Open Road lived up to his name.

In the $22000 Border Inn Maiden Plate over 1412m the four-year-old gelding came out fast, settled beautifully and when they turned for home jockey Jarrod Fry asked the question and his horse hit the open road.

Johnstone said as they straightened Wide Open Road surged to the front and was never challenged.

‘‘He was travelling well, but when the field slowed he got a little crossed up for a moment but soon got going again,’’ she said.

‘‘And he was still going away when they crossed the line.’’

It made it a good day for the Johnstone stable — it only had two runners and after a second last with Sightly in the second on the card was looking for some redemption when the promising Wide Open Road turned the day around.

‘‘Jarrod told us he got into a beautiful rhythm and felt good even as he was momentarily put off his stride,’’ Johnstone said.

‘‘The horse has been a slow maturer, he started with Henry Dwyer at St Leonards and came to us earlier in the year,’’ she said.

‘‘He is a good worker, eats well and once he irons out a few bad habits, such as trying to go flat out for the whole race, he will get even better.

‘‘After today I would say he is at the right distance — he has a half-brother in Providential, who won over 1600m recently.

‘‘There will probably only be one or two more starts from this preparation and when he comes back we might try edging him out and see how he goes.

‘‘His owner Doug Stutt wasn’t here to see him win, he had a mare called Swampland starting in the last at Flemington.”

In the second on the card — the $22000 1Print Maiden Plate over 1209m – Like To Think So had a stunning start to its career — by careering away with his first race.

Trained out of Bendigo, Like To Think So exploded out of the barrier from gate nine with jockey Harry Coffey in the saddle.

‘‘He jumped so quickly and showed such natural early speed I had to change the way we had planned the race,’’ Coffey said.

‘‘I didn’t want to lead, I was hoping to tuck in behind some cover, but once he got going I decided to let him have his head.

‘‘For a horse that is still learning he did a pretty good job, coming onto the course proper he got a bit hurried, and he had a few breathing issues, but overcame all that to win.

‘‘Even coming around the bend he got a bit confused with his feet, but once we straightened he did more than enough.

‘‘And he will only improve from here.’’

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