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AFL premiership coach Denis Pagan luxuriated in the aftermath of his stunning Victoria Derby victory on Sunday morning at Flemington, declaring he had a ''man crush'' on his horse, Johnny Get Angry.
But the former North Melbourne and Carlton mentor is not so intoxicated with success as to ask his classic-winning gelding to step up again against older horses in the $2 million Mackinnon Stakes on the final day of the Flemington carnival next weekend.
Denis Pagan, trainer of Johnny Get Angry, and jockey Lachlan King after winning the AAMI Victoria Derby at Flemington Racecourse on Saturday.Credit:Getty Images
Pagan, who holds a restricted license that allows him to train horses he owns, says he was tempted to go to the well once more but opted for caution, reasoning the son of Tavistock would benefit more from a spell now before being tasked with some arduous assignments in the autumn.
The 1996 and 1999 Kangaroos premiership coach revealed he had turned down significant offers to buy his maiden three-year-old before the Derby, but said there was never any likelihood that he would cash in.
Now Johnny Get Angry will be targeted at the rich staying three-year-old contests interstate when he is back in training after a spell.
''He will go out on Monday to enjoy a long break. He's probably got another couple of runs in him but there is no need to, just give him a spell and he will repay us down the track,'' Pagan said in an interview with racing.com.
''You will probably think about South Australia (Derby) the ACJ or even Queensland. I would like to have another crack at one before his three year old days are over because you just don't know with these international horses [he will have to face when he is a four year old]. They are just so much better.''
Pagan said he had a ''man crush on Johnny.''
''He's a beauty, he's the nicest most affectionate horse you could ever want to see.
''If you go down to the stables now he will have his head over the barn door and there's only one thing that will stop him saying hello, it's when they bring the feed out and put it in his bin.''
Pagan stuck fast with inexperienced apprentice Lachlan King for the big race even though he could have secured more high profile jockeys, and he explained his rationale.
''I have had a lot of practice with young sports people. If you believe in them and stick to them they will repay you in bucket loads. He's just a beauty Lachie, one in a million and I hope it opens the doors for him.''
Since the race Pagan's phone has been ringing hot with people wanting him to train horses for them – including his ex-players.
''I have had several people, a lot of the North Melbourne players I coached, they have been at me, wanting me to get a horse and train it for them.''
''I can't imagine what they thought last night. They were all terrified of me and they saw me tearing-up yesterday,'' he said, reflecting on the heightened emotion he displayed in the aftermath of his triumph.
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