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Inductee 2010: Bill Johnson

Hall of Fame

While W F “Bill” Johnson began training and driving horses in the early 1930s, and drove some 70 winners in Perth, it was as a trainer that he excelled.

Johnson topped the Perth Trainers Premiership five times, in addition to being runner-up six times, between 1949 and 1964.

The first of the more than 600 winners (474 in Perth) trained by Johnson came at the old Richmond Park track in Fremantle in 1928.

He controlled the State's biggest stable between 1950 and 1965 and, at a time when most of the leading trainers had a dozen horses in work, Bill Johnson's stable was closer to 35 and the horses were worked by Bill and his sons Max and Bob.

His success on the Premiership Table was to be expected with such large numbers of horses in training however the Johnson stable didn't lack when it came to quality either.

Bill trained WA Pacing Cup winners in Royal Shadow and Heroic Action and won his hometown Fremantle Cup three times with Imperial, Admiral Royal and Sylvia Mint.

The stable star Kiwi Dillon qualified for four Inter Dominion finals (1958,1960, 1962 and 1963) and may well have equalled the five finals record of Caduceus had the gelding handled the travel to Christchurch in 1961.

Kiwi Dillon, competing in six series, won two heats and a consolation. Johnson also won heats with Sultana and Kodak (finalist in 1959), both consolations of the 1958 Championship with Sultana and Calendar and a consolation with Interview in 1962.

This record is more remarkable considering the primitive travel arrangements at the time whereby a combination of air, sea, road and rail was the norm to get from State to State and New Zealand.

In March 2010, Bill Johnson was recognised nationally with the awarding of the “Brian Hancock” Distinguished Service Award for his outstanding contribution to the Inter Dominion in its formative years and establishing its profile in Western Australia. 

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