French Flair at Penrith

J Scott Latest News


Big Bettor’s Delight filly Tres Vite lived up to her French name on debut in New South Wales at Penrith on Thursday, June 21.

Tres Vite, now a winner in NZ and Australia.. She’s shown winning her maiden at Winton on December 31 for trainer Mark Jones.

Tres Vite, French for “very fast”, unwound quickly with a well-timed finish for driver Chris Geary to win in a career best 1:57.4 mile rate for the 1720m.

She settled back in the running line from an outside second row barrier, but the $2.20 favourite was on the improve with cover to be within striking distance of the leaders turning for home.

Raced by NZ breeders, Stewart Gillan and Kevin Watson, she outfinished fellow NZ-bred Majestic Kiwi to win by a neck.

She had earlier won twice in 10 NZ starts for the Mark Jones stable.

Tres Vite, the second foal from Tres Bien Franco, who Mark Jones guided to her only win on the grass at Motukarara in 2009, for the Dean Taylor stable.

Her grand-dam Thrilling Franco (Holmes Hanover-Tammera) is a three-win sister to Unrehearsed (1:58.3), the three-win Live Or Die dam of former top NZ filly Lizzie Maguire (1:55.1, 12 wins & $477,366) and other smart winners Matt Maguire (1:53.9), Thomas Maguire (1:56.2), Tori Maguire (1:57) and Martine Maguire (1:57.7).

The Jones stable tried for a double in the next event but had to settle for second with Getarattleon, who was recording his second runner-ups cheque in five NSW starts.

Getarattleon was caught wide early from the five gate with Chris Geary electing to find the top end. He was worn donw by Premier Joy, finishing a 3.5 metres second in a 1:59.8 rate for the 1720m.

Penrith-Marlborough-Menangle, June 21-23

J Scott The Inside Word

PENRITH NSW, Thursday, June 21

Race 6: TRES VITE (10, Chris Geary), mob. 1720m: “First-up in Sydney after taking while to settle in. She is the best horse in the race with the worst draw so will need luck but can win.”

Race 7: GETARATTLEON (5, Chris Geary), mob. 1720m: “Has been disappointing so will be driven quiet early and try to hit the line.”

MARLBOROUGH HRC, Friday, June 22

Race 5: TAIMATE ANGUS (6, Jonny Cox), 2300m std: “Finds a tough race with so many horses with multiple wins far better off in handicap than him. But he is honest and will go for a spell after this trip, if he’s not sold.”

Race 6: BELL OF BROOKLYN (1, Sam Ottley), mob. 2300m: “Gets her chance in the right field and has the draw but has been disappointing so a place chance.”

Race 7: SOME EXCUSESOMEWHERE (12, Sam Ottley), 2300m std: “Stand a query but if he goes away and settles he’s a winning chance.”


MENANGLE NSW, Saturday, June 23

Race 5: THE BUS (7, Chris Geary), mob. 1609m: “Has been average but was better on Tuesday and we will be happy to run 2nd or 3rd to Ignatius.”

Race 7: ROCKER BAND (9, Leigh Sutton), mob. 1609m: “Racing a bit below her best but gets into a nice race and can threaten.”

Delightful Memphis USA bound

J Scott Latest News


June 19, 2018


High quality mare Delightful Memphis is headed to North America.

After racing in Sydney for the first half of the year, the daughter of Bettor’s Delight will round out her track career in New Jersey for former Kiwi trainer, Nifty Norman.

Trainer Mark Jones confirmed the move this week and says she is due to fly out on the next available flight in the coming weeks.

The five-time Group 1 placegetter in New Zealand has been a handy, but not outstanding, performer across the ditch, winning five races but going unplaced in two Group 3 races.

Her spot at Jones’ satellite stable at Menangle has been taken by recent arrival Tres Vite.

Blueblood filly gets job done at Oamaru

J Scott Latest News


jUNE 18, 2018


It takes a nice horse for Mark Jones to put the driving gear on these days, particularly on a Sunday.

So, the writing was on the wall when M P Jones was listed as the raceday driver of debutant pacer Naiya Franco at Oamaru on Sunday. And in true Jones fashion, victory was delivered.

But Jones revealed post the well-bred filly’s successful debut, that despite showing plenty of potential around home, it was more the daughter of Mach Three’s manners that led to him jumping in the sulky on race day.

Nearea Franco, the well-performed dam of Naiya Franco, shown with driver Craig Thornley when racing for Spreydon Lodge trainer, Steve McRae.

“Let’s just say she’s broken a few carts around home,” he said.

“She gets a bit worked up and loses the plot sometimes, and it was easier for me if I could blame myself than one of the others if she decided to do it on race day.”

There was none of that behaviour on Sunday though, with the daughter of former Group One winning mare Nearea Franco producing a polished performance to win impressively at skinny odds.

“She’s always shown a bit of ability around home, in fact she works pretty good to be honest.

“But she’s not just quite translating that to away from home yet which is a bit frustrating.

“With no disrespect to her opposition, she should have won that by four or five lengths on what she feels like at home.”

Purchased by Mark Denyer at the yearling sales for trainer Dean Braun, Naiya Franco was one of three horses left with Jones by the Australian trainer and it’s likely that in time she will end up on the other side of the Tasman.

But for now, Jones is plotting the path and that might mean one more start before the spelling paddock.

“She’s quite a big filly, I think she will get better,” he said.

“So, we will look to find another race for her and then tip her out and bring her back around Christmas time for racing then.

“They want to breed from her so every win that’s on the page is a big bonus.”

Naiya Franco is the fourth winner from Nearea Franco, following in the footsteps of the brilliant Nike Franco along with Nyree Franco and Nicaea Franco.

She was one of two winners for the day for the Jones team on Sunday with recent acquisition, Moytura making it two in a row in the previous race in the hands of Sheree Tomlinson.

Tomlinson also copped a three-day suspension for her troubles after causing interference to stablemate Some Excusesomewhere when crossing that horse to take the lead just over a lap from home.

  • NZ Harness News

New recruits to join Sydney stable

Stu Latest News Leave a Comment

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

Stu Latest News, News Leave a Comment

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

Stu News, The Inside Word Leave a Comment

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

Stu Latest News, News Leave a Comment

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

Stu Latest News, News Leave a Comment


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

Stu Latest News, News Leave a Comment

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