TRAINER Gary Johnson is no stranger to winning feature races but the victory by his talented dog Mushy Peas in the Mercury Silver Trophy over 461 metres in Hobart last week was one out of the blue.
Mushy Peas outgunned two of the state’s best in Damek and Sultan’s Swing and there was no luck involved in the win.
Mushy Peas began only fairly from box six and while he enjoyed clear racing room to the top turn Damek had crossed from box eight to lead with Sultan’s Swing hot on his hammer.
Mushy Peas settled third and looked likely to battle it out for the minor end of the prize but turning for home he started to close the gap.
Within the blink of an eye he had the leaders covered and went on to score a convincing win by 2-1/2 lengths from Damek with Sultan’s Swing a neck astern.
He stopped the clock at 26.02 sec, which was well ahead of his previous best of 26.17 that he set in winning a heat of the St Leger in September last year.
Mushy Peas (Shiokaze-Bouncy Bertha) was coming off two seconds in invitation grade behind Hellyeah Jacko and Ella Lucy in Launceston, which was hardly the sort of form to suggest he could topple the best two sprinters in the state.
Damek had his colours lowered by Sultan’s Swing at his previous outing but that was hardly a surprise given the form of the Ted Medhurst-trained bitch that had won three of her previous four starts in invitation grade going into that race.
Johnson rated the win one of Mushy Peas’ best.
“When your dog beats Damek and Sultan’s Swing home you know he’s in best form,” Johnson said.
“He’s always shown the ability to produce that sort of run so I suppose it was only a matter of time.”
“He is the sort of dog that needs an outside box (6-8) and when he gets the right run in the race he can produce what he did last Thursday night,” he said.
Johnson will aim the dog at the state heats of the National Sprint series in August but in the meantime the dog’s owner, Mike Hardy, is pressuring the trainer to step the dog up in distance.
“Mike (Hardy) wants me to try him over 600 metres but I’m not sure he is ready for the trip.”
“He is a much better dog on a U-turn track which is why he goes best in Hobart and Devonport so if we did put him over more ground I’d be more inclined to tackle the 599-metre or 580-metres at Devonport and leave the Launceston 600m alone,” he said.
Mushy Peas has raced 59 times for 15 wins and 28 minor placings for over $30,000 in stakes.