It’s taken 42 years but Dr John Mammino is finally getting back some much deserved harness racing karma.
In fact, the retired Brisbane GP is riding the crest of a wave – having achieved three personal milestones at the age of 78 and 79.
"It's quite ironic to think that even during tough Covid times I've still managed own a personal-best 53 winners last season. I would never have dreamed that once.
“And that came on the back of my first Group One win last year. I actually quinella-ed that race, so that was a first too. That took me 41 years, and up until last year, I’d never ever won an a harness racing award from Racing Queensland before," the retired GP said.
“It’s never too late,” he joked.
On July 25 this year at Albion Park, the grand old Doctor nailed another harness milestone – winning his first treble - all within the space of 85 minutes at Albion Park.
The Trista Dixon driven Goddess Jujon won the fifth race at 4.03pm, and then her husband Grant drove Bombadier Jujon to win race six at 4.45pm. Thirty seven minutes later Dixon obliged again with Commodore Jujon in race seven.
"That was my first race-day treble as an owner. I'm very proud of all my horses, and Grant and his team, but I think my first Group One winner topples them all. I’ll never ever forget that night at Redcliffe.”
Dr Mammino was referring to the winner of 15 of his 20 starts (three seconds) and $301,617 - Governor Jujon, who with Dixon in the bike beat stablemate Signor Jujon by 1.7m in the $100,000 Garrards Redcliffe Yearling Sale Final for the 2yo pacers.
He paid $18,000 to breeders, Burwood Stud, for the 3-year-old Cammibest - Fifth Broadway (Western Terror) colt at the 2018 Redcliffe Yearling Sales.
The retired doctor has owned hundreds of standardbreds since 1978, but none better than Governor Jujon.
“He gave me my first Group One winner on this track in the 2yo Redcliffe Yearling Sale Pace. That was worth $100,000. He’s also won other Group races since, including the Group Two Simpson Memorial in Sydney in January; the Group Two 3yo Triad in May, as well as the Redcliffe Yearling Sales race and the South East Derby in July, which were both Group races as well,” Dr Mammino said.
“He also finished runner-up to Line Up in the Victoria Derby at the start of the year,” he added.
But despite his amazing record, Dr Mammino believes his other good 3-year-old pacer, Bombadier Jujon, is catching up on his stablemate. That Rock N Roll Heaven – Talented Tess (Grinfromeartoear) gelding was bred by Solid Earth Pty Ltd.
“He’s won six of his 16 starts (six placings). He actually won two in a row before putting in a huge run to finish a neck second behind One Change in a slashing 1:51.1 at Albion Park last start (September 19).
“He was last at the 300m and powered home late. That was the run of a good horse. The time tells me he can foot it with most of his age. He's catching 'Governor'," Dr Mammino said.
“I just wish Judy was still with me to experience all these great times,” he added.
Dr Mammino names his horses after his late wife Judy, who passed away nine years ago. Hence the name Judy and John, aka Jujon.
“I miss her dearly and I’d give anything for her to be here and witness these milestones. I’ve spent several decades chasing good horses. I know she is watching down on me from above. I think she would be quite proud,” Dr Mammino said.
He said he wasn’t really interested in harness racing until Sammy Francesco approached him one day at the trots.
“That was in 1978 and he asked me if I wanted to go in on a horse named Tyrone Park. I did and he wasn’t much good.
“My parents were cane farmers and Sammy used to cut cane for us. That was my introduction to harness ownership. It was a long wait for that first Group One winner. I must have owned 100-plus horses since the late 1970s,” Dr Mammino said.
Dr Mammino said he did experience some happy times with General Jujon in the early to mid-2000s when that pacer won 26 races and $165,686.
“He never won a Group One race though. He did race in a couple of Group Ones but midfield was his best placing.
“I used to be a hobby trainer as well and was best mates with Grant’s father, Bill, for more than 10 years.
“I owe so much to Grant. He’s by far the best horseman in Australia. I would also like to thank Jason Carkeet a lot for breaking in my horses. He’s a top bloke as well. His father Reggie is my best mate and I try and catch up with him every Saturday at the Albion Park trots,” Dr Mammino said.
But it hasn’t been easy getting to meetings for Dr Mammino in 2020.
“Like most of us I was going a bit crazy when I couldn’t get to the track to pat my horses. It’s been a real tough year with Covid but credit must go to Racing Queensland for keep the races going.”
With most of Dr Mammino’s team now spelling or preparing to come back into work, he still has about seven racing – four of which raced on Saturday night, and a couple during the week.
The best result came via the Dixon trained 7-year-old Rock N Roll Heaven gelding, Earl Jujon, who finished second in the third event at Redcliffe.