Johnstone Says Best Yet To Come For Federal Morgan

JUST two years into greyhound training, Darren Johnstone is pinching himself to believe he has Federal Morgan in Thursday's Brisbane Cup Final.

David Brasch

1 June 2020

JUST two years into a greyhound training career, Darren Johnstone is pinching himself to believe he has Federal Morgan in Thursday night’s Group 1 Brisbane Cup (520m) at Albion Park.

And Johnstone believes there is a couple of lengths improvement in the group 1 hopeful leading into Thursday’s showpiece decider.

The son of Barcia Bale and Absolute Beaut went into the heat of the Cup last week off a limited sprint campaign but was run down on the line by superstar Hooked On Scotch, beaten three and a half lengths in 29.55.

“Our bloke ran 29.79 and that was his first 520 metre run since he got here back in May,” said Johnstone.

“There has to be a good deal of improvement in him. I felt Hooked On Scotch’s win looked better than it was because our bloke was getting very tired at the finish.”

Federal Morgan was sent north to Johnstone by the Eaton family on the central coast of NSW after Wentworth Park racing was shut down due to coronavirus.

“We trialled him 520 metres at Ipswich after he got here and he came down with water diabetes so we backed off him and went to Capalaba for the Young Guns and then to Albion Park for the 395 metre Thunder,” said Darren.

“He went well in both of them.”

Johnstone knows only too well the task facing his dog.

“The biggest problem is we have box six and there is pace inside and outside him and those on the inside want to get out and those on the outside want to get in,” he said.

“But, look how good this field is, the four from Victoria are real stars, while Oh Mickey is our star.”

He admits Group 1 racing “is all new to me, and I will probably start to get nervous as the time gets closer to the race”.

Johnstone stripped almost two kilos from Federal Morgan when he came into his kennel and admits the dog seems to be racing well for it.

He and wife Sue have embraced their move into greyhound racing despite Sue needing a bit of coaxing.

They own 27 acres at Harrisville but are on the lookout for a new property.

“Sue was a bit reluctant at first, but we bought a heap of pups of our own and then bred a couple of litters ourselves,” Darren said.

“Now Sue is hooked.”