Gwenda's top of the tree — again

September 04, 2017

Gwenda Johnstone (second from left) with members of the Victorian Wakeful Club committee.

Gwenda Johnstone

ECHUCA TRAINER Gwenda Johnstone has been named 2016/17 Victorian leading lady trainer.

The win came on the back of 21 winners for the season ending on July 31 — it is the fourth time Johnstone has received the award.

She was presented with it by the Victorian Wakeful Club on Thursday at the Emerald Hotel in South Melbourne.

Starting as a trainer in 1989, Johnstone’s first title was 1996.

Her most recent season has included four metro wins — one at Moonee Valley and Ladbrokes Park Hillside and two at Flemington — 17 country wins and 29 placings from 164 starts.

And while she was happy with the season, she wasn’t sure the title as leading lady trainer would fall her way this year.

‘‘To be competing against every female trainer in Victoria and finish with that many winners is fantastic,’’ Johnstone said.

‘‘I knew Gai (Waterhouse) had a couple more winners, but as she had a combined license she wasn’t able to win the award.

‘‘We had a lot of city wins and a couple of good Melbourne horses come up to the stables which helped us (her and husband Mick) along.’’

Training is a tough gig for anyone, with most working days usually starting from 4am and rarely finishing before 6pm, beginning with track work and normally ending with a lot of paperwork.

On race days there is an equally demanding workload so there is little downtime.

Johnstone also owns about 15ha near Koyuga where her brood mares are agisted.

‘‘There’s always something to do,’’ Johnstone said.

‘‘You wouldn’t do it for so long if it wasn’t something you loved.

‘‘And it is the wins and achievements along the way which make it worth it.

‘‘You never know for sure how you’ll go at the start of the season and a lot depends on the horses you’ve got and where you run them.’’

Johnstone hoped they had a horse able to compete down at Melbourne again this spring.

‘‘This time of the year you get all the good horses coming back to race,’’ she said.

‘‘Everyone’s aiming to get a city winner and we’ll be looking to be competitive down there too.’’

Johnstone already has one country win this season with She’s Just Lika in the benchmark 58 handicap over 1200m at Swan Hill in August.

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