Premier Queensland country trainer Bevan ‘Billy’ Johnson has given veteran galloper Blue Jest another shot metropolitan prize money, weeks after taking out the $41,800 Birdsville Cup. The prolific winner will on Saturday step out in the 5th event at Doomben, the $70,000 Peter & Kerry Handicap over 1350m, coming up against the likes of Frespanol, Niccanova and last start winner Fiery Heights.
Though meeting noticeably tougher opposition, Johnson has carefully placed Blue Jest; carrying just 54kg with apprentice Clayton Gallagher eligible to claim 3. The horse in fact, will gain a relief of almost 10kg from last start, complimented by a drop back in distance after saluting with a hefty 61kg from barrier 10 over the mile in the sand at Birdsville. The Johnson camp remain quietly confident heading into Saturday, with Bevan’s partner Mel stating everything is right with their old boy.
“He feels sensational.” She said.
“He’s probably as well as he’s going to be, we opted for the 1350, we thought it was slightly easier than the 1MW where they probably could of gone a bit quick for Blue”
“I don’t think fitness will be as issue, he’s got no weight, he’s drawn barrier 6 and I said if there had been 14 in the race and he’d drawn barrier 6 we’d be jumping up and down.”
It has been a remarkable success story for the 8-year-old Olympus gelding, his almost fairytale career a far cry from where it began. Blue Jest was beaten over 4 lengths on debut at Tambo back in 2014, then 8 lengths in Longreach next start. Following his maiden victory at Prairie, Blue Jest was again beaten in Class B level in consecutive races, disqualified, and then unlucky with a string of runner ups before things began to come together for the bush champion.
Fast-forward 4 years, Blue Jest has now won 21 races from 59 starts including a North Queensland Derby, Emerald 100 and the Birdsville Cup, with his sheer ability earning him starts in Townsville’s Cleveland Bay and the Rockhampton Newmarket. It will be the second visit to Doomben for Blue Jest, running 3rd to Perplexity back in October 2015 over 2000m.
Blue Jest has been easy in the betting, opening at $14 before drifting out to $19. He has drawn barrier 6 with Clayton Gallagher to ride. A versatile galloper, the gelding has won over distances anywhere between 1000 and 1850m.
“He’s a handy horse and he deserves his shot in there.” Johnson said.
“If he doesn’t win at Brisbane tomorrow, we’d be looking at maybe for him to qualify for the upcoming stayers series, he’s a contender for that.”