NZ debut for talented junior driver

By Dave Di Somma, Harness news desk

Booked to drive Jasinova at Auckland on Friday night, Emily Johnson could easily be mistaken for being a newbie making her way in the sport.

But the 20-year-old is far by being a novice in the sulky.

The junior driver will make her New Zealand debut at Alexandra Park, after racking up 65 wins across the Tasman in recent years.

"I haven't won a metro race yet but I did drive a treble at Bunbury in 2022 ... that's been the highlight so far," says Johnson.

After being involved in Kidz Kartz and helping out Arna Donnelly at her Cambridge stables as a youngster, the then 17-year-old headed over to Western Australia in December 2020 to work for local trainer Aiden de Campo.

"My brother (and former NZ junior driver Mark) was there at the time and mentioned there was a job going and it just went from there," says Johnson.

She was based at Capel, about 200 kilometres south of Perth.

"I drove two full seasons," says Johnson, "I was going to the trots three to five times a week - so probably 10 drives in total a week."

Her first win was at Albany in just her fifth race day drive.

But after three years out west she decided it was time to head home.

"All my family are over here - I just felt as though it was time to move back."

She's got herself a job with Sean McCaffrey who trains at Luk Chin's property in Tamahere in the Waikato.

Johnson will drive the Chin-trained Jasinova in race 6, the Obex Medical Handicap Trot Handicap Trot, after the Love You six-year-old took out the Group 3 H R Fisken and Sons Northern Trotting Breeders Stakes a fortnight ago.

Johnson will take on the McCaffrey-trained Con Grazia Love as well as proven performers like All Cashed Up and Sacred Mountain over 2200m.

"It's going to be different driving right handed," Johnson says of her first ever race at Alexandra Park, "but it's same same , you're still chasing horses around!"

Race 6 is set to go on Friday night at 8.33pm


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