Johnson joins Sir Peter’s winning run

Balios (Jason Waddell) winning the first race at Ellerslie today for Danielle Johnson and Sir Peter Vela.

Injured Cambridge jockey Danielle Johnson had more than just a passing interest when she cheered Balios to a debut win at Ellerslie today.

Johnson shares in the ownership of Balios with Sir Peter Vela, who also bred the Shamexpress three-year-old under his Pencarrow Thoroughbreds Ltd banner.

Balios is trained by Johnson’s partner, Stephen Marsh, and had shown promise with a win and a second in two trials.

Johnson was aboard in the first trial which Balios won by five lengths over 850m at Te Awamutu last May and that form stood up well today as the runner-up, the Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained Spring Delight, was a close second behind her stablemate Apellido, three races later in the Ellerslie programme.

Jason Waddell was in the saddle when Balios had his second trial, which resulted in a second over 1000m at Matamata a few weeks ago, and he again took the reins today.

Waddell pushed Balios along in the early stages to get across from his draw then settled him into second one-off the fence and had him poised to challenge early in the run home.

Balios ranged up to the leader Markle at the 200m then had to withstand late charges wide out. He got the nod by a head from Monaco while Raz, trained by John Bell, was the same margin back in third spot.

Johnson was shaking with excitement as she headed into the winner’s enclosure with Sir Peter to celebrate the debut win.

Johnson has been off the scene since breaking a collarbone in a fall at Ruakaka last month and she hopes to be back race riding after a visit to her specialist on February 1.

Meantime she is enjoying the thrill of racing a winner and also sharing in the great innings being experienced by Marsh.

The Marsh stable has had a steady flow of winners and sits third on the New Zealand Trainers Premiership with 35 wins.

Seven of those wins have come within the last 10 days. Effervescent won for him at Matamata last Friday week, then Firefly followed up the next day at Ellerslie with Chief Sequoyah and Sweet Nineteen adding to the tally with wins on the same course at Thursday’s twilight meeting and Amastar keeping the roll going with victory at Te Rapa yesterday.

Balios was the first of two winners for Marsh today, the other being Molto Veloce.

Poinsettia (Shafiq Rusof) making a winning debut at Tauranga last Friday.

Sir Peter Vela has also had a successful time over the last few days with three winners.

The run started with the John Bell-trained Poinsettia at Tauranga last Friday and Balios’ win today was followed up by the easy last-race win by Penteverest, whom Sir Peter races in partnership with Laurie Laxon.

Like Balios, Ponsettia was successful on debut when following up some encouraging trials form.

The three-year-old daughter of Pins had been placed in two trials and she was well fancied to make a winning debut in the Gear Welding Services 1200.

“If she hadn’t run in the first three we’d have been disappointed,” Bell said.

“She’s a half-sister to Enough (two wins) and she has shown a lot of talent.

“She’s not a 1200m horse. Up to a mile or further will be better. She’s out of a Zabeel mare.”

Poinsettia was bred by Sir Peter from Lafleur, whose three wins included the Gr.2 Cambridge Stud Sir Tristram Fillies Classic (2000m) at Te Rapa and the Gr.2 NZ Bloodstock Royal Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie.

Lafleur’s last start resulted in a second in Ellerslie’s 2003 Gr.2 Queen Elizabeth Handicap (2400m) behind Upsetthym, who went on to win the Gr.1 Auckland Cup in her next start.

Poinsettia was ridden at Tauranga by Shafiq Rusof, who urged her along in the initial stages to be midfield and angled her out on straightening for the run home.

Poinsettia raced greenly but then knuckled down and won well by a half-length to follow in the footsteps of her older half-sister Flourishing, who won for Sir Peter from the stable of Steven Ramsay and Julia Ritchie a week earlier at Matamata.