Big race wins elude top jockey

Danielle Johnson on Chenille
Danielle Johnson on Chenille

Danielle Johnson will be looking for quality as well as quantity this weekend.

The Cambridge rider leads the jockeys' premiership and has an excellent strike rate but has been comparatively short of feature wins this spring.

She will go into the weekend with a five-win advantage in the premiership, with 32 wins, at a strike rate of 6.03. The only rider in the top 35 with a better strike rate - and only marginally superior - is Canterbury jockey Sam Wynne.

"The premiership is always at the back of your mind if you are in front but it's early days yet," Johnson said. "I will keep doing what I'm doing and ride mainly in the north but my main goal is to ride big race winners."

Johnson was third on the premiership table last season and second in 2014-15. She won 11 black type races last term, including the Karaka Mile and seven group races.

She finished second in the group one One Thousand Guineas at Riccarton last Saturday but the listed Metropolitan Trophy at Riccarton, on Nymph Monte, has been her sole stakes win to date this term.

That might change this weekend when she handles form runners in three stakes races at the premier meeting at Pukekohe Park on Saturday, before heading to Singapore to ride in Sunday's $1.35 million Singapore Gold Cup.

Johnson's mounts at Pukekohe include likely favourite Chenille in the $100,000 group three SsangYong Counties Cup (2100m), No More Tears in the $100,000 group two NRM Auckland Breeders' Stakes (1400m) and Snowdrop in the $50,000 listed Haunui Farm Counties Bowl (1100m).

Johnson, who won the 2015 Counties Cup on Vavasour, has clicked with Chenille and is unbeaten from four rides on the mare.

"She was pretty dominant last start and she's probably my best ride [at Pukekohe]," Johnson said. "She should be a nice Auckland Cup horse.

"But she doesn't want too much give in the ground."

Johnson and Chenille combined to win the 2200m Hawke's Bay Cup in April and five of the mare's six wins have been at 1800m or further.

Which is why Chenille's last start win in a rating 85 1600m at Ellerslie was so encouraging. Chenille carried 58.5kg, 2kg more than runner-up Battle Time, who won the Coupland's Mile at Riccarton at his next start.

Chenille, a half-sister by Pentire to the good mare Chintz, is highly rated by trainer Tony Pike. "With another six months on her, she could be as good a stayer as I have had," Pike said.
Pike also trains Snowdrop, who will be making her open class debut when she resumes in the Bowl. A daughter of Australian Oaks winner Daffodil, Snowdrop has won six of her last nine starts and ended her previous campaign with a hat-trick of wins.

"It's a pretty good field but I galloped her yesterday [Tuesday] morning and her work was super," Johnson said. No More Tears is among the four highest rated horses in the Breeders' Stakes and will race in side winkers for the first time.

Johnson is scheduled to fly out of Auckland, for Singapore, at 1.30am on Sunday and will be riding in Singapore for the first time.

Her Singapore Gold Cup mount will be Newlands, one of three runners in the race for former Kiwi trainer Stephen Gray. Newlands, a five-year-old Australian-bred by Mugharreb, has had four wins and five placings from 14 starts.


- NZ Racing Desk

- NZ Herald

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