2500km road trip yields seven wins for apprentice jockey Brook Johnson.

Published 13 November 2023

2500km road trip yields seven wins for apprentice jockey Brook Johnson.

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Rockhampton’s racing’s latest rising star, the apprentice Brooke Johnson, riding on the crest of a winning wave has a new adaptation for the idiom “putting in the hard yards” and it places her right in the driver’s seat.

In a stunning achievement, Brooke currently sits in ninth position on the Queensland jockeys’ premiership table, with 28 winners for the current season from August 1 despite the disadvantage of not having been eligible to ride in Rockhampton meetings but that is about to change.

Seven of those winners came last week which involved Brooke driving 2500km all-up.

Commenting on her haul of four winners last Saturday at Ilfracombe and three at Barcaldine the previous Saturday, Brooke simply said, “I  f you do the kilometres, you get the rides”.  

There can be no denying that Brooke Johnson has done the kilometres, in fact 8425 over the last five weeks at the last ten race meetings at which she has ridden.

Over that period, Brooke has ridden 11 winners and seven placegetters through riding at Emerald, Barcaldine, Home Hill, Blackall, Bowen, Mackay and Ilfracombe.

Those figures may have been bettered had the Isisford meeting on October 28 not be called-off by stewards over track concerns after Brooke had arrived on course “all ready to go” after a fruitless 747km drive from Rockhampton.

At Ilfracombe last Saturday, Brooke went within a long neck of riding “the card” as her only other mount on the five-race program Forever Invincible finished second.

“I’m pretty proud of landing the four winners, it doesn’t happen very often”, Brooke said.

The last seven days heralded a good news week for Brooke after being notified by stewards that her provincial jockey’s licence that will allow her to ride at among other meetings such as TAB cards at Rockhampton and Townsville had been granted.”

“I was over the moon”, said Brooke, who celebrated her 21st birthday on September 16.

Brooke Johnson firmly believes fate has certainly played its part in her destiny to achieve so highly with 68 race winners since her first on Grand de Lago at Thangool races on July 22 last year when she debuted.

“I never had any interest in becoming a jockey and had no idea about them at all. I always loved riding horses, jumpers from pony days and then on to the Show Circuit. That all came to an abrupt ending when Covid hit a few years back. I missed riding the horses so much I made inquiries about riding trackwork at Callaghan Park racecourse as racing was still going ahead. I love the adrenalin thrill of riding. It started from there and I just got what they call the racing bug. I can’t get enough of riding. I love thoroughbreds and so to become a jockey was the next step and it just happened, and I am, so pleased I did”, pocket-dynamo Brooke said.

Weighing less than 49kg, weight was never going to be an issue and Brooke has really kicked goals as in winners since becoming indentured to leading Rockhampton trainer Clinton Taylor who can’t speak highly enough about her. 

“Seriously, Brookie is the hardest worker I have ever had. She is so good and a listener and takes everything in about riding trackwork and in races. Her work ethics are first class, and she deserves all the success she is achieving”, Taylor a former jockey himself said.  

Modest to the core, Brooke also feels fate has been the catalyst for her successes since becoming a Drive-In, Drive Out (DI/DO) jockey “highway woman”’ to service remote Central Western Queensland race meetings of a Saturday.

“I really have to put that down to jockey Matty Gray who unfortunately got dragged by a horse and injured in the days leading up to him riding for Barcaldine trainer Toni Scofield at Emerald on September 2. I got a call from Nathan Schofield to see if I could ride their horse Jerry Zanda, a Emerald. I said I would, and it won for us. After that Toni asked if I would come out and ride at the Saturday meetings for them in the West. I said I would and that’s how it has come about through what occurred to Matty. If you get offers from a good stable like that you have to take them. I am so thankful for all the support from trainers out there”, Brooke reasoned.

It is sound reasoning as the Schofield/Johnson team have combined with 10 winners since, including six last week.

I suppose it is best explained by another modified idiom “one man’s loss is another’s gain”.

In this case however “one man’s loss is another woman’s gain” and rest assured Rockhampton racing will gain when Brooke Johnson rides in races there at Callaghan Park for the first time on Tuesday, November 21. 

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