New recruits to join Sydney stable

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Impressive Christmas maiden graduate Rock N Joy will soon join the Sydney stable at Menangle, Mark pointing to some good opportunities there in making the call.

In a move to get the best earning potential and broodmare value out of the royally-bred filly, Mark hopes to send her home to her owners with a good race record and a quick time at Menangle, all going well.

“Being a daughter of Joyfuljoy (11 NZ wins, 1:51.6 USA) she has a lot of value later on in the matrons paddocks,” said Mark.

“Knocking around in New Zealand trying to find opportuinities outside of the top class 3yo races is very tough these days. Unless you are in the very top bracket, like a Delightful Memphis, you have to position each horse in the right place to get the optimum benefit,” he added.

“This filly will do a nice job in Aussie. She has the ability, has come on nicely since a break and I’m looking forward to getting her to Ashlee (Grives) soon.”

By Rock N Roll HeavenRock N Joy is owned by long time stable owner Grant “The Butcher” Hatton, and Starmark Limited.

“Our doors are open in Sydney. Anyone looking for better opportunities can contact me for a chat. The ability to win and earn in Sydney and its surrounds are endless with the right horse.”

Mark has others earmarked for a trip to Australia soon, including multiple race winner The Bus who will be set for series in NSW.


A-team head to Melbourne

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Top mares head Victorian charge

Delightful Memphis and Rocker Band are in Melbourne awaiting the $30,000 Allied Express Jodies Babe (mares) at Melton this Saturday night.

Mark and Ash Grives have sent the mares south from the Sydney base to contest the Group event, and Mark is pretty happy with the draws for the 1720m feature, and their condition going into it.

“Ashlee is realy happy with them. We are obviously there because we feel the horses are well and ready to go,” said Mark.

“Betty (Delightful Memphis) is bright as a button again. Backing her up last time after a very hard run was probably in retrospect the wrong thing to do. It was just one of those times you know you did wrong afterward, but would never know if you didn’t turn up in the first place.

“So we turned the page on that and expect a big run Saturday night. And Rocker Band (Anthony Butt) is going well again. Probably should have won the Ladyship Mile to be fair, but the leader finished her winning chances that night. Any luck in Melbourne and I think she will keep them busy.”

Whittaker has also headed south with the mares and he gets his boarding pass in the $50,000 City Of Melton Plate at Group 2 level, tackling some of Victorias best and the likes of Shadow Sax and star recruit Soho Tribeca.

“I probably wouldn’t expect to beat Soho Tribeca but I guess you never know,” he said.

“Gate one should help the cause a bit, a nice run on the fence suits him.”


Rocker Band shoots for a second Group one

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She has been there and done that before, and Mark Jones is hoping quality pacing mare Rocker Band can bring her best form to the table when she takes her place in tonight’s (Saturday) $200,000 MacArthur Square Ladyship Mile at Menangle.

The Rocknroll Hanover mare was brilliant in winning her first Group One in the Harness Jewels at Cambridge in 2016, storming home off a tight spot on the markers to win in the hands of Sam Ottley.

And Mark is hoping the aid of gate one over the mile at Menangle could see her return to the winners list at the top level, an encouraging run last time in the Canadian Club Stakes timely with the big one on the doorstep.

“It is great to get a draw like this in a big race. We have set her for the race for a long time and to get a draw that can definitely help you win it, we couldn’t be happier,” he said.

“She has had a mixed few months but all that could be put behind her if she could get up and win this one,” he added.

The five-year-old has won $312,000 in takes and 12 races for Jones, her time on the track perhaps closing in but with good races for mares available in Australia Jones and owner Greg Brodie may be tempted to race her a little while longer.

“I’d say most definitely she will go to the stallion this year but hopefully she can keep racing good until then,” said Jones.

Victory would counter disappointment for Jones and Ashlee Grives who also set star pacing mare Delightful Memphis for the race but she was inexcusably left out of the qualifying races over the past fortnight, a bitter pill for all connections.

Whittaker runs in the final event at Menangle, and after pleasing Grives since his cracking fourth in the Chariots Of Fire (pl 4; 1:49.54) he is a bona fide chance to win another.



Whittaker breaks 1:50 in Chariots

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Sportswriter four-year-old Whittaker paced the mile in 1:49.54 in finishing fourth in the Chariots Of Fire behind the smart Jilliby Kung Fu at Menangle last Saturday night.

Driver and caretaker trainer Ashlee Grives positioned him four-deep on the marker line and they rallied strongly in the run home, his sectionals proof that he could not have gone any better, an amazing run.

Whittaker paced his final 800m in 53.05 and 400m in 26.44 in a staggeringly-quick Chariots, his final splits bettered only by Let It Ride (53.01) and Gotta Go Ya Hu (52.85).

Whittaker continues a super run of form after taking out the $40,000 Hondo Grattan a week earlier. Mark will now give him a short let-up after some hard racing.

Rocker Band will contest Saturday night’s $40,800 Robin Dundee Stakes from barrier seven, though both Jones and Grives were very unhappy star pacing mare Delightful Memphis was left out of the field by the club.

Saveapatrol out again – but should be back

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Saveapatrol broke down yet again last week but his trainer, Mark Jones, is not about to throw the towel in just yet.

The eight-year-old Christian Cullen gelding cracked a pastern in his near side hind leg and now has two screws in each of his pasterns.

Jones has pretty much lost count of the number of times Saveapatrol has gone amiss but he can add up operations on six occasions.

“Cracked bones are not as bad as tendon and suspensory injuries because once they’re healed the bone is stronger than it was before the break,” said Jones.

“So, we’ll bring him back again – he has been a very good client of Bill Bishop’s and he has to pay for all those ops.”

Jones was of course joking with the main reason for another comeback being Saveapatrol’s well known aversion to retirement.

He made a successful comeback a month ago at Nelson when winning his first race as a trotter in his first start for two and a half years.

Saveapatrol was then sent out the warm favourite for a handicap at Motukarara two weeks later on the strength of that performance but he paced away – “something he’ll revert to when he gets stirred up” – and was down to have his first race from a mobile at Addington last Friday night.

But he cracked the pastern the Wednesday prior and was scratched.

“That was going to be his last start as a trotter for a while actually because we were going to switch him back to pacing for some FFAs coming up at Addington.

“I should have actually had him in the Invercargill Cup recently as that wasn’t an overly strong field.

“He could have had the hopples on for a week and he would have been very competitive. That was my mistake.

“He’ll come back trotting again and we can switch him to pacing when the time is right.”

Saveapatrol had won 11 of his 18 races pacing since first racing five years ago, accounting for the Geraldine, Marlborough and Invercargill Cups while finishing third in the 2014 Auckland Cup won by Terror To Love over Adore Me.

From Menangle to Otaki from the couch

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Three wins a long way apart

Mark Jones thought he’d achieved something rather cool when he sat on his couch and watched Sheeza Sport and Majestic Lavros win at Otaki and Wyndham respectively last Sunday.

It was after all, Jones’ second and third winners in the space of about 18 hours, and a special hat-trick at that.

“I don’t know if too many trainers would have won one at Menangle (Whittaker), one at Wyndham, and another at Otaki within a 24-hour period – I’m going to claim it, anyway,” he laughed.

“And I did it all from the couch!”

“One in each island of the country and one in Australia is pretty cool. It was great to get Whittaker into the Chariots, but you know, just as fun to get wins for Kypros Kotzikas and the guys that own Sheeza Sport – all great clients.”

Majestic Lavros is heading in the right direction as the three-year-old trotting classics near, and Jones is of the belief he could even leapfrog stablemate Castlereagh yet, though the latter has the runs on the board.

Sheeza Sport is co-owned by former TAB bookie and Trackside radio announcer Murray Owles, who shares in the fun with family and friends.

Majority owner Robert Higgins was initially in the filly and remains so, Owles and co snapping up a half-share when their yearling sales purchase had to be put down after injuring himself in a paddock accident.

Kypros Kotzikas might have another smart trotter

Whittaker wins big to grab Chariots spot

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The decision by Mark Jones to start a satellite stable in Sydney is paying dividends, evidenced by Whittaker’s win in the Group 3 A$40,800 Paleface Adios Stakes at Menangle on Saturday night.

The 1.53.9 mile-rate win earned the son of Sportswriter a berth in next Saturday night’s Group 1 A$200,000 Chariots Of Fire.

Jones, naturally, was thrilled with the outcome.

“It’s a big thrill to get him in there for his owner, Greg Brodie, and it justifies the big move to have a barn in Sydney.

“I need flagship horses and they need to win and get in to the big races.”

Ashlee Grives manages Jones’ Sydney team when he’s not there and drove Whittaker to victory last night.

“A big thank you has to go to Ashlee; it’s a great team effort.

“We buy horses for Greg to get in to the big races so we consider this a success just qualifying.”


While Jones never likes to see other people’s horses break down, the injuries to Vincent and Ultimate Machete now make victory in the four-year-old feature a distinct possibility.

The move to Sydney has been good for the confidence of Whittaker, who won four of his 12 races in New Zealand and has added a further five from nine Aussie starts.

“He would have whacked around here lucky to win a race in his grade, yet over there he has gained confidence and is doing a great job.”

The Chariots Of Fire had five qualifying races, including three out of state, and the balance of the 10-horse field will be made of place-getters in last night’s race and the other local qualifier, the Hondo Grattan Stakes (January 20).

“We thought he could win the Hondo Grattan actually, but he was pretty crook after the race.

“So, we were lucky to be able to get him right in time for last night.”

Vincent won the sole New Zealand qualifier – the 4&5YO Futurity at Cambridge on Christmas Eve – while Jilliby Kung Fu won the 4YO Bonanza in Victoria and Ultimate Machete won the Golden Nugget in Perth on Interdominion Grand Final night.

So, it will just be Jilliby Kung Fu that makes the field outside of horses that contested the two Sydney qualifiers and, given Whittaker beat most of them last night, that gives him a right-royal show of Group 1 victory.

Other qualifiers include: Atomic Red, Gotta Go Ya Hu, Pay Me Sam, Our Uncle Sam, Conviction, Joes Star Of Mia, Angel In White and Let It Ride.  Garrick Knight

Amberley runners

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AMBERLEY, Tuesday Feb 6

RACE 4 IMMORTAL CHANGE (4, fr. 1950m mobile) Sam Ottley -“I’ve had some tie-up issues with her leading in but hope to get her there as close to 100 per cent as I can. On form she has to be a good chance.”

RACE 5 LETS HUSTLE (5, fr. 1950m mobile) Sam Ottley -“Seems a bit better this week and the blinds go on to use the good draw and he looks a good eachway chance there.”


Colic attack loss of brilliant filly

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Promising filly dies after slick trial

Just a day or so after a stunning 55.5 final 800m at the Ashburton trials, highly-promising Raging Bull filly Pamplona Princess died of a colic attack.

Mark Jones was saddened by the unfortunate demise, saying he held the filly in high regard and she was booked to head to Sydney this week to meet up with co-owner Aaron Goadsby, who was understandably shaken.

“Aaron, and her other owner Marcus Kirkwood, are both devasted. She was very smart and we had high hopes of winning at Bathurst (APG),” he said.

“Her trial was exceptional and we couldn’t wait to get her over there and show them what she could do. To lose her is one of the knocks you get in this game, sometimes it does not happen the way it should, does it?”

Pamplona Princess looked set to add another string to the bow of Raging Bull, a former star pacer and son of Christian Cullen who has produced a number of promising horses from some small crops.

The loss of this filly is also a loss for him, she would have flown the flag rather high.

Delightful Memphis back on winning roll

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Star filly wins first race as a mare in NSW

Former star two-and-three-year-old filly Delightful Memphis found the winning feeling again at Goulburn last Sunday when she was successful in the $A19,000 Goulburn Rose, furthering a good record for Mark Jones’ team offshore.

Caretaker trainer and driver Ashlee Grives had to punch her out hard from gate one to hold a slender advantage into the first turn, but once in front she dictated play and dashed away from the 400m to win very easily, a striking 26.5 final 400m split at the end giving nothing a chance.

‘Betty’ ran a staggering 2:39.7 for the 2240m, rating 1:54.8 to win by more than four metres.

It had been a bit over seven months since the daughter of Bettor’s Delight and Memphis Memlody had won a race, Mark in the bike that night at Albion Park in a lead-up to the Queensland Oaks races.

She was beaten into fourth in both the Provincial Oaks and Queensland Oaks, then spelled with Sydney horseman Aaron Goadsby before he jogged her up and sent her across to Grives to prepare for the new campaign.

“Very pleasing to get her back winning again,” said Mark.

“She’s come up well, hadn’t had any luck with barrier draws in four runs after the spell, but had still gone a great race each time, placing on each occasion. We were pretty hopeful when she drew one at Goulburn.

“Though, we got there by our toenails (to lead) on the first bend. Gladly, she held the top and after that a bit too good.”

Both Delightful Memphis and Mark’s other top class mare Rocker Band now head to the heats of the Ladyship Mile and he hopes he can qualify both for the rich final at Menangle.

“There are always a number of good mares about but the race seems a bit more open this year,” he said.

Delightful Memphis is owned with a majority share by breeder Wayne Higgs, and is joined in the thrill by former New Zealand cricketer and now world-leading cricket commenator Simon Doull, Peter and Deborah Smith, and Sir Loins Ltd, Kaysan Farming Ltd, and BJ & JH Holdings.

Life Lavros nearly added another stable win on Tuesday, going under by just a nose at Menangle in 1:54.7.

DELIGHTFUL MEMPHIS (Ashlee Grives) on her way to Goulburn glory