Gladstone is bracing for race day

EMOTIONS run rampant in horse racing and no doubt the tears will be flowing if Mackay stayer Sea Dynasty can win back-to-back Gladstone Cups when that $15,000 feature race is run at Ferguson Park racecourse on Saturday.

To the former Rockhampton jockey, now wheelchair-bound trainer Darryl Johnston, his grey galloper Sea Dynasty is a special horse.

After all, Sea Dynasty has been there for him during the good and the bad times.

Johnston, 26, a former Rockhampton premiership winner, became a paraplegic as the result of horrendous spinal injuries from a race fall at Callaghan Park in December 2007.

“Sea Dynasty was the last race winner I rode. I’ll never forget that,” Johnston said from his Sarina base yesterday.

That win came about in a 1500 metres race on December 18, 2007 in Rockhampton just a fortnight before his career-ending fall.

After lengthy rehabilitation and readjustment to a new lifestyle, Darryl took out a trainers’ licence so as to remain focused on horse racing.

One of the first horses he was given to train was Sea Dynasty.

Johnston’s partner, the Mackay jockey Trinity Bannon, provided a fairytale for him on August 15 last year when Sea Dynasty won the Gladstone Cup.

There were joyous scenes in the Ferguson Park enclosure as Darryl greeted the two loves of his life – Trinity and old Sea Dynasty.

It didn’t end there.

Two starts later on September 12, Trinity and Sea Dynasty won the Thangool Cup (1600m).

Eerily, some horses often strike peak form around the same time each year and to Darryl’s good fortune, Sea Dynasty fits that category.

Right on cue, he popped up and won for Trinity Bannon in a Mackay Handicap over 1500 metres at his last start on July 27.

“That was a good trial for the Gladstone Cup. Better still, I think he (Sea Dynasty) is going better now than before he won the Cup last year,” Johnston disclosed.

If that’s the case it gets even better for him.

“I own him now as the previous owners gave him to me,” Johnston said, conscious the first prize money of the Cup is a hefty $10,000.

Johnston and Bannon will float the eight-year-old Sea Dynasty to Rockhampton next Friday where the trio will stay overnight before heading off to Gladstone on Cup morning.

Gladstone Turf Club president David Weinert agreed Sea Dynasty would be a worthy Gladstone Cup winner.

“Gee, with retiring Brisbane caller Wayne Wilson doing the Gladstone Cup as his last call, there wouldn’t be a dry eye left on the place if Darryl’s old horse won the race,” Weinert said.

Yesterday he said plans were shaping well for what he predicted would be “a fabulous Cup Day”.

“The hype around Gladstone is terrific. The Gladstone Cup seems to be on the tip of everyone’s tongue,” Weinert said.

One lucky patron on Saturday will win a complimentary $200 bet to be placed “win only” on the Gladstone Cup.

“It is a matter of completing an entry form at the gate and later during the meeting a draw will take place,” Weinert explained.

The Fashions on the Field is also a talking point around town and why not with $5000 worth of prizes up for grabs.

“Prizes include four return airfares from Gladstone to Brisbane with Jetset Travel; 15 Double Gold room passes to Gladstone Cinemas; fashion, hair care and beauty vouchers valued at $1100 courtesy of Dermottique, Mamzelle and Lily Hair as well as various other vouchers supplied by local businesses,” Weinert said.



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