By Isaac Murphy
Maggie Moo Moo did Queensland proud in the Winter Carnival.
She was a Group Three Super Stayers winner, runner-up in the Origin Distance race and Group One Queensland Cup and most recently third in the Ipswich Grand Prix.
As impressive as her resume is Darren Johnstone knows she’s capable of more and is desperate to see her at her best for the Queensland National distance final in August at Albion Park.
“I was disappointed running third in the Ipswich Grand Prix a length behind Sir Truculent and Burnt Ends Saturday night,” Johnstone said.
“It all started for her at Ipswich winning restricted races over the 630 metres and I thought on her home track she just might be too good for them.
“It wasn’t a poor run by any means. She’s gone under by a small margin to a couple of the best stayers from their respective states.”
Johnstone knows there’s only a small window to give the bitch every opportunity she can at Group level, leading to a jam-packed schedule.
“She’s been incredibly consistent over a four-month period where she’s been to Sydney for the Association Cup, Melbourne for the Sandown Cup and the Brisbane Carnival,” he said.
“She’s still bouncing around like she wants to race next week, but with Nationals approaching in August I think this is the right time to give her a week or two’s rest.
“She’s carrying a lot of residual fitness which she shouldn’t lose over the course of a couple of weeks. It should hopefully sharpen her up for what’s going to be a really competitive distance race.”
Johnstone and wife Sue got a taste of representing the Maroons, beating a stacked Group Three Super Stayers field, whetting their appetite for more success.
“Chasers like her don’t come around too often and as much as I’ve enjoyed seeing her race interstate, we get the biggest kick out of showing what she’s made of locally,” he said.
“We were lucky enough to represent Queensland in the Super Stayers and beat home a New South Wales (Zipping Niseko), South Australian (Sir Truculent) and Victorian (Five Star) dog, which was a great honour we’d love to have again.
“To officially hold the crown as the best stayer in Queensland for the next year would be a whole other level.”
Six months ago Maggie would have gone into this race an unbackable favourite with a lack of depth in the Queensland staying ranks and while she’s still top pick, the next wave have arrived.
“It’s not going to be easy. I think it’s fantastic that we have a bitch Like Mick’s Recall and other emerging stayers coming on the scene. It’s healthy competition,” Johnstone said.
“I think in any sport you want to test yourself against the best and throughout the Winter Carnival Mick’s Recall has shown she’s right there pushing us.
“If Maggie is able to come out and perform at her best, I’m confident she’ll win, but if she finds one better you’ve just got to tip your cap.”