After training his first Sandown Park winner last Thursday, Garry Johnson is hopeful the celebrations will continue on Saturday night when regally bred sprinter Jefferson County makes his debut at The Meadows.
Jefferson County, a younger half-brother to 2021 Melbourne Cup hero Koblenz, handed Johnson, who hails from Chum Creek, near Healesville, the biggest win of his training career when leading all-the-way in the GOTBA Cup final (515m).
The March ’20 son of Barcia Bale and two-time G1 winner Up Hill Jill, bred and owned by Rose Geall, was a slick 29.45sec winner of the $12,000 to-the-winner Grade 5 feature, his 10th win from 23 starts and fourth from his past five.
WATCH: Superbly bred sprinter JEFFERSON COUNTY (3) continued his sensational recent form in the GOTBA Cup final at Sandown Park last Thursday night, clocking a smart 29.45sec.
“He started off with Dave (Geall) but then he had a fall at Ballarat and stumbled at Shepparton and lost a bit of confidence,” Johnson explained.
“Dave’s given me quite a few dogs to train over the last 10 -12 years and he felt Jefferson County needed a go up the straight, so he asked me to give him a couple of runs at Healesville, which is where I am, and see what happens.
“He’s just kept stepping up to the mark and he’s met every challenge we’ve given him so far. It’s very exciting at the moment.
“Dave knew he had the talent – don’t worry about that!
“I didn’t have that much confidence he would get 500m, but Dave always said he was city class.
“I’ve got seven dogs at the moment but he’s the one. What he wants, he gets!
“He’s the first winner I’ve had at Sandown and my first city winner at a main meeting – I’d only won at The Meadows on a Wednesday previously. That’s why he gets the front seat!”
After opening his Sandown account in impressive fashion in the GOTBA Cup final, Jefferson County will make his first appearance at The Meadows in Race 12 on Saturday night at 10.29pm.
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Drawn in Box 3 in a Grade 5 heat (525m), the blueblood shares TAB favouritism at $3.30 with G3 Launching Pad finalist Dusty Bourbski (Box 2).
“I think it’s a little bit harder on Saturday,” said Johnson.
“It’s a pretty hard field, with a lot of quick dogs early. The box positions, with ‘the two’ (Dusty Bourbski) wanting to head out, could cause a few problems for us.
“Jefferson County is very quick early and in the middle split, but his run home times haven’t been super, so it’s catch me if you can with him.”
Jefferson County made it four wins from his past five starts in the GOTBA Cup at Sandown.
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