Magic touch rips up Rotorua

Chris Johnson weaving his magic on Let Her Rip at Rotorua.

Chris Johnson weaving his magic on Let Her Rip at Rotorua.

Cambridge trainer Shaune Ritchie was quietly confident he had pulled the right rein when he engaged top South Island hoop Chris Johnson for Rip It Up at Rotorua yesterday.

And so it proved as the unflappable Johnson, nicknamed the “Magic Man,” guided Let Her Rip to a notable first black-type win in the Gr.3 $70,000 ISCL Rotorua Stakes.

Let Her Rip races in the colours of the recently retired Turn Me Loose with four of the multiple Group One winner’s owners sharing in the ownership of the Rip Van Winkle mare with Ritchie’s, Alison.

“We suggested before the race Chris might suit her as he is very good at his best,” said Ritchie.

“That’s why you put these leading riders on. He allowed her to do her own thing and came into the race at just the right moment. He made the right choice (early in the run home) as he does.”

Let Her Rip had won four of her previous 16 starts with the most recent success coming last February at New Plymouth when ridden by Lisa Allpress. Her earlier efforts as a three-year-old included a fifth behind Risque in the Gr.1 NZ Bloodstock 1000 Guineas.

Johnson was having his first ride on Let Her Rip and settled her midfield before angling her into the clear on straightening. He then got the best out of the mare over the final stages to score by a length and a half from New York Minute.

“She put herself there and travelled nicely,” said Johnson. “Once she got to the outside she was a big chance.”

Let Her Rip was the last of three winners on the day for Johnson, who started the day with success on outsider Good Vibes in the first event then won the fourth race on Prodigal Son.

Johnson is making a dedicated effort to win his first NZ Jockeys’ Premiership and his treble today has taken him to 84 wins, five behind the leader Danielle Johnson.

It would be an incredible effort if Johnson is to take the title considering the overall lesser winning opportunities he gets than most of the top jockeys.

The 53-year-old has already weaved his magic to be in the 2000-plus wins club, an amazing record allowing for the lengthy periods he has spent away from race riding.