Kamboja has Johnston smiling by scoring half-head lead

ROCKHAMPTON wheelchair-bound trainer Darryl Johnston was beaming his trademark cheeky smile as his new stable acquisition Kamboja saluted for him during an exciting day at Gladstone races on Saturday.

Ridden exceptionally well by Rockhampton jockey Luke Dillon, old-stager Kamboja scored a thrilling half-head win from Dinero Rapido.

The pair lined up in the straight and engaged in a thrilling head-to-head battle for the Open Handicap (850m).

Gladstone specialist Direct Debit ran-on strongly from well back for third.

It was obvious on Saturday, through Kamboja's glowing coat and general appearance, that Johnston the trainer had groomed his new steed well for a first-up win.

"It was a good effort really for him to win first-up under 59kg, as he hadn't raced since early last December," Johnston said

"That's his first run for me, but I think he can improve further as his blood isn't quite right yet."

The Kamboja win was Luke Dillon's only ride for the day.

This was also the case with talented Indian apprentice Sabbir Alam aboard Liberty Tycoon in the MB 65 Handicap (1000m).

In a similar finishing scenario, favourite Liberty Tycoon and outsider Rahula battled down the entire length of the straight.

The lead changed numerous times and with just 50 metres to go, Rahula looked to have the better of Liberty Tycoon.

However, under desperate hands and heels riding, Liberty Tycoon gathered itself to win by a half-neck.

Liberty Tycoon loves the sand at Gladstone's Ferguson Park racecourse. In nine starts there, he was won four times, and been placed on the other five occasions.

Trainer Raymond West played a smart hand in engaging Mackay-based Alam, who reduced Liberty Tycoon's weight from 63kg to 60kg.

Alam has been living in Australia for nine years and until last year was content as a track-work rider at Randwick, where he rode work for trainer Gai Waterhouse, among others.

"I wanted to be a jockey, so I got my weight down and became an apprentice last year. That was my sixth winner", Alam said.

Race Results

Race 1

  • 1 Rhino
  • 2 Top Button
  • 3 Iriana Wil

Race 2

  • 1 Embers Alert
  • 2 Master Roshi
  • 3 Naripsa

Race 3

  • 1 Liberty Tycoon
  • 2 Rahula
  • 3 Vancouver Gold

Race 4

  • 1 Kamboja
  • 2 Dinero Rapido
  • 3 Direct Debit

Race 5

  • 1 Rytarga
  • 2 Coal Command
  • 3 Redwin