Johnson Gets His Chance

07 May 2020 | Ken Casellas
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Promising young reinsman Mark Johnson will be looking forward keenly to his opportunity to drive talented, in-form pacers Bletchley Park and Bettor Be Oscar at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Bunbury trainer Stephen Reed will use Johnson’s concession to enable four-year-old Bletchley Park to contest the Larkhill Vets Pace over 2130m in which he is awkwardly drawn at barrier No. 5 on the front line.

Bletchley Park continues to race in grand form and boasts a splendid record of 28 starts for 11 wins, eight seconds and two thirds. He started from barrier six in a 2130m event last Friday night when he raced in seventh position, started a three-wide move 550m from home and ran home strongly, out five wide, to finish third behind Always An Honour and Talkerup.

That was Bletchley Park’s first outing since he sat behind the pacemaker Shockwave and finished an excellent second to that star pacer in the group 2 Four And Five-Year-Old Championship on March 13.

Bletchley Park will need to be at his top to beat smart pacers Marquisard, Lightning Jolt and Pradas Ideal Dahling, who have drawn inside of him.

The Craig Abercromby-trained Marquisard will have many admirers after drawing the prized No. 1 barrier. The five-year-old is a good frontrunner who ended a losing sequence of 15 when he led from barrier three and won from Brookies Jet and Tanaka Eagle at a 1.56.7 rate last Friday night.

Pradas Ideal Dahling, trained in Collie by Wayne Justins, is in splendid form and should take a power of beating. He revealed grand fighting qualities last Friday night when he worked hard in the breeze before winning from Our Rhythm N Blues. He will be driven for the first time by Dylan Egerton-Green.

Bettor Be Oscar, trained and driven by Aiden de Campo, has won in excellent style at his past three starts (twice over 2130m and over 2536m last Friday night). De Campo will use the 23-year-old Johnson’s concession to enable him to contest the 1730m Insure With PSC Bloodstock Services Pace this week.

De Campo has driven Bettor Be Oscar at 42 of his 45 starts for 13 wins and 20 placings. Johnson’s only drive behind the four-year-old was when he was a $34 chance from barrier eight and finished eighth behind Eloquent Mach at Gloucester Park on February 12 last year.

Johnson, whose first metro-class winner at Gloucester Park was with the brilliant Handsnwheels in July 2018, was born in New South Wales and brought up in Wollongong before the family relocated to Hamilton in New Zealand in 2007. It was in New Zealand that he developed a love of harness racing and he drove 17 winners there from 2014 drives before arriving in Western Australia two years ago. A highlight of his career was a winning treble at Manawatu in May 2017.