Johnny Get Angry gives happy connections $2m Victoria Derby
Johnny Get Angry stormed home in the last 100m to win Saturday's A$2 million ($1.92 million) Victoria Derby at a virtually deserted Flemington racecourse on the first day of the Victoria Racing Club's marquee Spring Carnival.
The horse, trained by former Australian Rules AFL title-winning coach Denis Pagan, was locked neck-and-neck with the favourite Young Werther in the final 200m.
But he stormed home by more than a length over the fast-finishing Hit The Shot.
Young Werther finished third in the 2,500m race for three-year-olds.
"All I was thinking at the 600 was 'don't wake up'," said winning jockey Lachlan King, who won his first Group 1 race.
"I've lived this moment in my dreams and it worked out so well. It's unbelievable."
Pagan, who coached Australian Rules side North Melbourne to AFL titles in 1996 and 1999 and earned his trainer's licence only this year, could not believe his horse had won the race.
"I'm lost for words," he said.
"It's just such an amazing feeling. I thought I was pretty low key yesterday and had a good lunch and maybe a bit too much to drink. I didn't expect this. And it's happened."
Social distancing rules meant the racecourse, which typically attracts crowds in excess of 300,000 across the four race days during the week, was deserted with just essential staff, jockeys and officials on site.
The Derby was just one of four Group 1 races on the card on Saturday, with Shout The Bar winning the 1,600m Empire Rose Stakes in a photo finish from the favourite Odeum.
The Chris Waller-trained September Run, ridden by Craig Williams, took out the weight-for-age Coolmore Stud Stakes for three-year-olds over 1,200m shortly before the Derby.
The Kennedy Cantala is the final Group 1 race on the card. It was won by the Waller-trained and Damian Lane-ridden Yulong Prince.
German trainer Andreas Wohler's Ashrun won the Group 3 Lexus Hotham Handicap over 2,500m to secure the last spot in tomorrow's A$8 million Melbourne Cup, the highlight of the Carnival. - REUTERS