In an amazing result, former AFL coach Denis Pagan has won the Victoria Derby with Johnny Get Angry just four months after saddling up his first runner as a trainer.
The 73 year-old, who coached North Melbourne to win AFL premierships in 1996 and 1999, has had only 12 runners under his owner-trainers’ licence which he took out six months ago.
Pagan was in tears, as was 22 year-old apprentice jockey Lachlan King who also rode his first Group One winner at what was his only ride for the day.
“I can’t believe it. I didn’t think he could do it. I just wanted to have a runner in it and now he’s won it,” Pagan said.
“I’m never emotional. I used to pot Chris Waller for sooking up and now I’m playing him on a break. It just hit me.”
King’s father Steven also rode two Victoria Derby winners having scored on Star Of The Realm in 1991 and Helenus in 2002.
Pagan said as a football coach he had always backed young players and that’s why he stuck with King.
“Everyone was telling me I should use a senior jockey. I wanted to stick with Lachie, who has stuck with me,” Pagan said.
“He’s ridden all of my starters.”
King said Pagan was the best thing that had happened to him in his career, which he had considered giving away this year.
The former Xavier College schoolboy said his father, Pagan and trainers Troy and Leon Corstens told him to persevere.
The victory was King’s second city winner for the season.
“I can’t believe it. It’s so amazing. I thought I had awoken from a dream when he hit the line and had won the race,” King said.
Pagan thanked Troy Corstens for picking the son of Tavistock out as a yearling and buying him for $50,000 at the New Zealand sales.
Pagan trains from Flemington out of the Corstens’ Malua stables.
Johnny Get Angry was a maiden going into the Victoria Derby and he became the fourth one to claim the race in the past 30 years.
Johnny Get Angry ($21) defeated Hit The Shot ($7) by a length with Young Werther ($3.40 fav) a short neck away third.
Matt Cumani said he was proud of the effort of runner-up Hit The Shot.
“They went too slow early for him. I’ve got to be impressed by the way he finished. He’s a serious horse,” Cumani said.
Hit The Shot’s rider Fred Kersley was fined $10,000 by Racing Victoria stewards for excessive whip use and suspended for nine days over his Derby ride.
Stewards said Kersley struck Hit The Shot 14 times in total and on 10 occasions before the 100 metres which was five over the limit.