Johnson has another star.
Regal setting looked another smart recruit for the Howard Johnson stable when romping home in the the first division of the Ellerton Juvenile Novices' Hurdle at Catterick yesterday.
Trained on the Flat by Sir Mark Prescott, Regal Setting was purchased for Johnson's big-spending patron Graham Wylie for 215,000 guineas and came to the track with a tall reputation.
He was sent off at 1-2 and jumped fluently for Tony Dobbin to beat Classic Event by six lengths after leading approaching the second-last flight.
Johnson is concerned, however, how the official handicapper will react to Regal Setting's victory based on how some of his other recruits have been assessed.
The County Durham-based trainer said: "I'm not amused with the way they are handicapping some of my horses ( it's ridiculous.
"You have to start horses off somewhere and you only win round here and Sedgefield and you get 115.
"Astronomic got 115 for winning a mickey mouse race at Sedgefield and Julius Caesar was third in a bad race at Hexham and was given 94. It doesn't stack up for these ex-Flat horses.
"They are handicapping on reputation just because they were half-decent on the Flat."
Dobbin was on the mark again an hour later when he steered Ball Games to a comfortable success in the Skeeby Selling Handicap Hurdle.
Wilf Storey's grand servant Weaver George belied his 14 years of age with a battling victory under Alan Dempsey in the Pepper Arden Handicap Chase.
Weaver George was given a hero's reception as he returned to the winner's circle and an emotional Storey said: "He deserved that. They were talking about the years taking their toll, but you should look at some of the horses half his age.
"He's won 22 races for us now but I just wish he was a bit younger."
Dempsey went on to complete a double when the Andy Turnell-trained Six Pack took the Askrigg Handicap Chase by four lengths from Tiger Frog.
The Ann Duffield-trained Prairie Sun gained her just reward for some solid efforts with a narrow victory over Goblin in the second division of the Ellerton Juvenile Novices' Hurdle.
Prairie Sun had never been out of the frame on her six previous runs over hurdles and Mrs Duffield said: "She really deserved that. She was fourth in a Listed race at Wetherby and she's never been out of the money.
"She's had some hard races so we'll leave Prairie Sun for a while now and wait until the spring."
Sovereign State easily took the Richmondshire Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle to end a losing streak stretching back to June for his trainer David Thompson.
Sue Smith was another to end a barren spell when saddling her first winner for four weeks when Izzykeen landed the closing Streetlam `National Hunt' Novices' Hurdle.
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|Publication:||Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)|
|Date:||Dec 2, 2004|
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