Day At The Track

Justice makes big journey worthwhile

08:00 AM 19 Oct 2020 NZDT
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Trainer/driver John Justice landed the money at Mildura, which involved a road trip leaving at 6.30am and getting back home at 11pm,Harness racing
Trainer/driver John Justice landed the money at Mildura, which involved a road trip leaving at 6.30am and getting back home at 11pm

Multiple Group One winning harness racing trainer-driver John Justice has been rewarded for a long, long day at "the office".

Justice, of Toolern Vale, near Melton, decided a meeting in the far north-west corner of the state at Mildura provided suitable races for a number of his horses.

"We ended up having three runners and it was certainly a huge trip. We left home on Friday at 6.30am and got to the meeting at around 12 noon, then it was 11pm when we finally made it home," Justice said.

"I love it up there though, and I really missed the Mildura Pacing Cup Carnival in April this year due to coronavirus."

But Justice made his latest trip worthwhile when five-year-old gelding Joe Nien (Shadow Play-Riverside Oakes (Art Major) scored an impressive all-the-way win in the $12,000 Tasco Petroleum Pace.

"He obviously likes the 810m track because his previous win was up there, too. Jess Tubbs won with him last December when she was training him," Justice said.

"When we landed in front, the horse was always bowling along nicely. He really felt great all the way. He's one of eight horses I train for a very good client in Shwu-Mei Thompson."

Justice said while another of his runners in Sports Wrack ran an honest third placing in the 3YO Pace, his other talented youngster in Yeah Mate had an off day.

"He was never a happy boy and the false start didn't help. I thought he was perhaps our best chance, but it wasn't to be," he said.

Joe Nien, who started his career in the best possible way with a two-year-old win on debut for Justice at Ballarat, back in April, 2017, has been a model of consistency since with 15 wins and 19 placings for over $121,000.

Justice said he planned to keep an eye on future Mildura programs.

"It won't be a regular trip, but I could do it every five or six weeks if it works in. I had stablehand Stacey Carbone with me just in case I needed a relief driver," he said.

"I would like to think that Joe Nien would make an ideal horse to compete in the Pacing Cup in the future. I'm hoping so anyway."

And Justice certainly has the credentials to make any predictions on that front-he trained Keystone Scotch-sired pacer Satan Romeo (owned at Lake Boga by Doug Jewson) to take out the 1989 Cup, driven by Scott Gill. He has also claimed many other feature events of the Mildura calendar over the years.

The former leading South Australian horseman, who decided to shift his operations to Victoria just before Christmas 1994, has been up among the top of the sport for decades through the deeds of Shakamaker, Tip Top Prince, Safe and Sound, Lennytheshark and others.

Shakamaker was awesome in winning the 2000 Melbourne Inter Dominion, unleashing an electrifying sprint from last to first to have spectators in a frenzy. "Shaka" finished his career with 46 wins and $2.2 million.

Justice said he could remember competing at Mildura meetings when he was in his early twenties and based near Adelaide.

"Last Friday as I was going out onto the track, it brought back some old memories. I think the tune that they play over the on-course speakers as the runners move out from the marshalling yard, is the same one that was played back then, so it was a bit nostalgic," he said.


Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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