Pagan: Johnny Will Have to ‘Improve a Lot’ Come Spring

Wed 9th December 2020

Victoria Derby-winning trainer Dennis Pagan is under no illusions that Johnny Get Angry will have to improve leaps and bounds if he is to serve it up to the international raiders in the 2021 Melbourne Cup (3200m).

The son of Tavistock took out the 2020 Victoria Derby (2500m) as an outsider at $21, in what some are suggesting a weak edition of the time-honoured race, with Danny O’Brien labeling it “basically a Benchmark 64 for three-year-olds.”


Johnny Get Angry has been lumped with a 105 handicap rating following the win, which will make life difficult with high weights in handicap races going forward, something that isn’t lost on Pagan as his charge is in the paddock.

“He’d put on some 35 kilograms. Trot came with me and he said “we should bring him back in,” Pagan said while speaking to RSN 927.

“He loves stable life. All he wants to do is eat and put his head up over the barn door.

This morning I was looking at him. He’s all dappled up and I thought “gee he’s a lovely horse.”

“He will be at his best as a five-year-old but he will need to be.”

Pagan is yet to confirm an autumn plan of attack, but is keen to race at Flemington as much as possible, with the Australian Guineas, the Andrew Ramsden, and the VRC St Leger all in the equation before a spring preparation geared towards the Melbourne Cup.

“It’s going to be a different calibre of horses. It’s going to be a lot tougher than what he’s done so far. I’d be a fool not to run him but it’s going to be one hell of a task. He’s going to have to improve a lot,” he said.

Pagan remained realistic, saying that the galloper owes him nothing even if he can’t measure up in the next racing season.

“He doesn’t owe me anything. I don’t care if he doesn’t win another race,” he said.

From Muswellbrook to the Melbourne Cup, Will is mad about all things racing and sport. Spent countless hours in the backyard as a child pretending to be Glenn McGrath, and has been known to get deadly late swing with a taped tennis ball.