By Brad Gray
Bruce Johnson had his first runner in near 13 years at Scone’s Christmas Eve meeting and after Callmetrouble showed his rivals a clean pair of heels the two-year-old is now set to appear at Warwick Farm on Saturday.
“He has got to measure up but I am confident he will. The best part is that he has improved like I knew he would coming off that race.”
“I think he’ll be a better horse ridden just off them but it worked out perfectly at Scone. He won’t be far off them again.”
Callmetrouble's win on debut
Johnson, who formerly plied his trade as a trainer at Rosehill where Larceny in 2004 was his last runner, now treats the caper as a hobby and looks after a team of just three horses. They are Callmetrouble, tried horse Sashay, formerly with Chris Waller, and an unraced filly named Miss Alyce.
“My brother-in-law, sister-in-law and niece bred Callmetrouble and kept asking me to train him and I kept saying yes, but meaning no. Then one of my old clients (Terry Wicks) rung me out of the blue and said I’ve got a horse I want you to train (Sashay).
“I still ummed and ahed for a while and thought about it a lot but Terry kept telling me that this horse is ready to go soon, so I thought I better do something about it.”
The family ties with the horse don’t end there as Johnson’s daughter Chantelle, former jockey and now Sky Racing presenter, strapped the gelding on debut while Johnson’s son-in-law Grant Buckley (Chantelle’s husband) rode him.
As for the name ‘Callmetrouble’, the son of Dubleo hasn’t always been the most obliging galloper.
“He was a lot of trouble early days. My niece Sasha named him Trouble and when I got him I went one better than that and I called him Wally.”
Johnson now trains out of Hawkesbury, renting stables from Noel Mayfield-Smith. While where he lives at Agnes Banks is only a stone’s throw from global racing powerhouse Godolphin.
Johnson, who manages pre-training property Denn’s Park at North Richmond, may have been absent for an extended period from the training ranks but he never lost the unshakable racing bug. Nor has he needed to change any of his training systems.
“I haven’t been far away. I’ve always been a punter.”
“I walked into the stables when I was 13 and I never walked out.”
“You think you know what you’re doing so you just stick to what you know. I wasn’t swayed. I’ve stuck to what I’ve always done.”
Jockey agents needn’t worry about calling up for the ride either as Johnson knows exactly where his bread is buttered.
“Grant is family! I wouldn’t get tea. I wouldn’t get a work rider. I’d be in all sorts of trouble,” he laughed.