Johnson delighted with Group One pick-up ride

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A lot can change in a week and the misfortune of the races being abandoned mid program at Te Aroha has resulted in leading jockey Danielle Johnson picking up the plumb ride on Avantage in Saturday’s rescheduled Group 1 Fiber Fresh New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1600m) at Te Rapa.

Opie Bosson was originally engaged to ride the -142.86 favourite, but with a commitment to Amarelinha in Sydney this weekend, eight-time Group One winner Avantage required a new rider in the re-scheduled affair.

“It’s funny the way things work out. I am excited to be on Avantage again and it’s my luck with Opie out of the country to ride Amarelinha in the Oaks in Australia,” said Johnson, who has ridden Avantage to three Group One victories.

“She has got a nice barrier draw (3) and you go into a race on a horse like that with so much confidence.

“She has won at weight for age at every distance from 1200m to 2000m. There are not many horses that can do that.

“She has got the will to win and she is just a good horse,” Johnson said.

Avantage will not be perturbed by the likely Slow7 surface that presents at Te Rapa on Saturday, proving adept in most conditions, while her chief rivals Levante (+280) and Coventina Bay (+450) are likely to be standing her a fair start.

“It’s only a small field and it is going to be a tactical affair. There is not really one horse that you think is just going to jump and lead. There are a couple of horses that are wanting to get back like Coventina Bay and Levante, so at least with Avantage she has got the gate speed that you can take a position,” Johnson said

“Hopefully I can sit outside the leader and she dashes away like last time there,” she said, referring to the star mare’s win in the Group 1 BCD Group Sprint (1400m).

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