Top Horses

MASTER LAVROS

Giant-sized squaregaiter Master Lavros has etched his name into NZ trotting history as a two-time winner of Addington’s Group One Dominion Handicap for the Mark Jones stable.

He’s also won the big NZ trot Group 1 staying double, the Dominion at Addington and the Auckland Rowe Cup in the same season as a 5YO.

Master Lavros, shown winning his second G1 Hellers Dominion at Addington on November 13.
Master Lavros, shown winning his second Group 1 Hellers Dominion at Addington on November 13, 2015.

Master Lavros, good enough to win at two despite his big frame, galloped and lost his chance in the 2YO Jewels but he had Mark’s attention as the best horse in the stable.

However, he knew he had to carefully manage the horse’s career.

Along with the help of Woodend Beach right-hand man, Regan Todd,  they’ve taken Master Lavros to the top . . twice.

Master Lavros looked ready to sweep all before him after taking out his first Dominion as a 5YO in 2013.

He was dominant that season, winning seven of 14 starts that season, also taking out the Group 3 Dr Cliff Irvine Memorial Canterbury Park Trotting Cup, the Group 3 Seelite Windows & Doors Summer Trotting FFA at Addington, the Group 1 Fred Shaw Memorial NZ Trotting Championship at Addington and the big Auckland Group 1 2014 Canam Rowe Cup, earning $275,659 in stakes.

Master Lavros, in action winning the Group 1 Fred Shaw Memorial NZ Trotting Championship at Addington in April, 2014.
Master Lavros, in action winning the Group 1 Fred Shaw Memorial NZ Trotting Championship at Addington in April, 2014.

Master Lavros was NZ Trotter of the Year in 2013-2014 but 12 months later he was sent to Matamata for a dye exploratory test to determine the cause of a loss of form after failing to show his best in the 2014 Dominion in November, won by Jaccka Justy.

A skeletal scinitgraphy bone scan test revealed some general joint issues were most likely affecting Master Lavros.

Treated, he resumed four months later and ran an encouraging second to Stent in the 2015 Fred Shaw Memorial NZ Trotting Championship at Addington, ran third to Sheemon and Stent in the Group 1 2015 Anzac Trotters Cup at Auckland, and ran Stent to a head second in the 2015 Group 1 Canam Rowe Cup.

The Kyros Kotzikas-owned squaregaiter finished the season with back-to-back Addington wins, getting his revenge over Stent in the first of those.

Master Lavros was back with a second Group 3 Yaldhurst Hotel Canterbury Park Trotting Cup win at Addington on October 9, 2015.

After a sound but unspectacular fourth behind Stent at Kaikoura in his final lead-up to the Dominion, work was required to shed some kilos and Master Lavros was at his best again to win the 2015 Group 1 Hellers Dominion at Addington as a 7YO, holding Alley Way and
Sheemon.

Master Lavros ran a game second to rising star Monbet in the Group 2 Rosslands Lyell Creek Stakes at Auckland on December 18 but went amiss in the countdown to the National Trot.

He was returned to Canterbury in late December 2015 for a slow long rehabilitation process with a hind suspensory problem.

The story continues next season . . .

Master Lavros (Career record: 47 starts, 19 wins, 8 seconds, 3 thirds, $590,102).

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SAVEAPATROL

Also frustratingly on the injured list early in the 2015-16 season was the stable’s best pacer, Saveapatrol.

The 6YO Christian Cullen-Rondel Franco gelding has been superb in his limited racing to date for owner Grant Hatton.

Again due to the horse’s size, it hasn’t been all plain sailing with the impressive pacer.

Saveapatrol, winning the Thames Cup at Alexandra Park on July 3. (Trish Dunell photo).
Saveapatrol, winning the Thames Cup at Alexandra Park on July 3, 2015. (Trish Dunell photo).

He swept on the scene in December 2012, winning his first three straight in the deep south, then after being beaten by Blazin N Cullen at Addington, landed the $25,000 Northern Southland Autumn Futurity at Invercargill.

Not seasoned enough, he was unplaced in Border Control’s NZ Derby then came back at four, winning his next four straight including a strong NZ Cup day win in November 2013 in a C3 pace in a slick 3:09 (1:56.9 mile rate).

Saveapatrol stepped up to win the Marlborough and Group 3 Invercargill Cups in January 2014.

In the latter he defeated triple NZ Cup champion Terror To Love, and subsequent Hunter and NZ Cups winner Arden Rooney, in 4:03 (3200m), the last 800m in 55.4s.

Brilliant pacer Saveapatrol in action at the Rangiora trials on Wednesday.
Brilliant pacer Saveapatrol in action at the Rangiora trials on September 9, 2015, leading up to the Hannon Memorial. He was sidelined four days later.

Two months later, Saveapatrol was given his chance in the $250,000 Auckland Cup and was luckless, running on late for third behind champions, Terror To Love and Adore Me.

However, the horse wasn’t quite right after the race and Mark opted for some precautionary surgery on Saveapatrol, which revealed a slight tendon tear.

Returning 15 months later, all looked well when he won the Thames Cup second-up at Auckland on July 3, 2015.

He was then set for November’s New Zealand Cup.

He returned with an impressive display at the Rangiora trials on September 9, pacing his last 800m in 55.5s to last by a nose from No Doctor Needed and Tiger Tara, but four days later he was sidelined again, this time with a high tendon tear.

The tear is in the same leg he sustained his previous injury, necessitating another enforced layoff.

Saveapatrol (Career record: 18 starts, 11 wins, 1 second, 1 third, $145,618).

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ROCKER BAND

Rocker Band, a 1:53.3 winning miler first-up in her 4YO racing for the Mark Jones stable, will be a valued broodmare when she returns to Mark at the end of her race career.

The daughter of Rocknroll Hanover and 2005 New Zealand Cup winner Mainland Banner was bred by Peter Chambers of Glenferrie Farms, but she changed hands to Mark in a subsequent deal.

Rocker Band, after winning at Winton in 1:53.3 (1609m). Photo: Bruce Stewart, Southland Harness Racing.co.nz
Rocker Band, after winning at Winton in 1:53.3 (1609m). Photo: Bruce Stewart, Southland Harness Racing.co.nz

Another change came after former stable racehorse Ultimate CC didn’t quite live up to expectations for Mr Brodie.

Mark decided to do a swap, selling Mr Brodie a potentially smart filly/mare in Rocker Band for racing purposes.

“Greg’s not interested in breeding them, so I get her back at the end of her racing,” Mark said.

However, before Ultimate CC departure to Australia from the Jones stable, the Christian Cullen filly did win a $15,000 Nevele R Consolation for Mark’s WDC 03 (World Driving Champion 2003) Limited company at Addington for her third win in 15 NZ starts.

But Rocker Band has been a much superior racemare.

She won four from 14 at three, beating former Australasian Breeders Crown 2YO Fillies Champion Katy Perry in two Nevele R Heats.

She missed the Nevele R Final after a respiratory infection was discovered following her unplaced Southland Oaks start.

Rocker Band returned for The Orange Agent’s Harness Jewels 3YO Fillies Diamond, won in 1:51.1, with Rocker Band eighth and race-timed in 1:52.6.

She won at Cambridge during a June-July northern campaign but was unable to place in four Auckland starts.

Rocker Band came back stronger at four, following up her smart 1:53.3 Winton mile on December 19, with wins at Nelson in 3:03.2 (2400m stand) and overcame a tough alley over 1609m at Addington to win in 1:55.5.

She over-raced and did the most work when beaten into third by Tangos Delight and Democrat Party in the Group 2 Premier Mares Championship at Addington on February 12.

Rocker Band will get another chance for Group 1 glory in the NZ Standardbred Breeders Stakes in April, then is likely to try her luck in Australia for Mr Brodie.

Rocker Band (Career record: 19 starts, 7 wins, 2 seconds, 2 thirds, $66,472).

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OHOKA TEXAS

Ohoka Texas made fast progress after joining the Mark Jones stable as a 4YO in the spring of 2011.

The Christian Cullen-Millwood Touche entire had won six previously as a 3YO for David and Catherine Butt including a Group Two Southern Supremacy Final, but kicked his racing for Mark in style at Winton on October 16, 2011.

Chasing a penalty-free win in a designated junior drivers race, Regan Todd was the man for the occasion.

Ohoka Texas, in action for trainer-driver, Mark Jones.
Ohoka Texas, in action for trainer-driver, Mark Jones.

They justified their favouritism, holding Matt Maguire and Miss Moonlite over 1609m in 1:54.1.

Beaten by Magical Mel on NZ Cup day, Mark left nothing to chance three days later on Show Day, 2011, clearing out to win by 10 1/2 lengths in an impressive 1:56.7 mile rate for the 1950m.

Mark and Ohoka Texas became feared front-runners, winning by 6 1/4 lengths next-up at Winton in a 1:59.1 rate (2400m) and by 7 3/4 lengths in the Group 2 Pelorus at Blenheim, beating Magical Mel and Major Mark in a 1:56.6 rate (2300m).

On a winning roll, Ohoka Texas then took out the Group 3 2012 Invercargill Cup from Franco Ledger, this time by 1 3/4 lengths.

After a golden run, things stalled a shade for Ohoka Texas through the latter half of his 4YO season.

Returning at five, he ran fourths behind Franco Ledger at Addington and in the Hannon at Oamaru, ran seventh to Terror To Love at Addington, then went south for an easy one at Winton, this time pacing the 1609m in 1:56.2.

After an eighth at Kaikoura, he didn’t flatter in the 2012 New Zealand Cup, finishing 12th to Terror To Love, but backed up three days later by running second to former Hunter Cup winner Stunin Cullen in a six-win & faster pace over 3200m, won in 3:58.6.

He was then on-sold by Katie, Adam and Olivia Carville.

After a proposed sale to North America fell through, Mark syndicated him for the Dallas Cowboys Syndicate to continue racing him from the stable.

Ohoka Texas ran fourth in the 2013 Pelorus behind Jason Rulz, Christen Me and Major Mark, then ran a half-length second to Samuel James in a 4-8 win pace at Addington on January 18, and fourth to Franco Ledger in the 2013 Invercargill Cup but was unable to regain winning form.

After a first-up fifth at Addington as a 6YO in August 2013, it was decided his future lay off-shore and he was sold again to race in the United States.

The 12-race NZ winner has subsequently lowered his career best to 1:50.2 in North America.

He’s won a further eight races and over $121,000 in the USA, with career earnings closing in on $300,000.

Ohoka Texas: NZ Career Record (37 starts, 12 wins, 4 seconds, 0 thirds, $174,342).

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JOHNNY FOX

Johnny Fox, purchased by Victorian owners Meg and Merv Butterworth after winning his first five for other stables, found a purple patch of form in January, 2015, from the Mark Jones stable.

He won first-up at Addington for the stable in March 2014, but had to settle for three seconds as his best results for the remainder of the year.

Johnny Fox and Blair Orange, who struck a purple patch of winning form for the Mark Jones stable in January, 2015.
Johnny Fox and Blair Orange, who struck a purple patch of winning form for the Mark Jones stable in January, 2015.

Two months before he regained winning from at Nelson, Johnny Fox had dropped out with a breathing problem on New Zealand Cup day at Addington.

However, Mark found an overcheck and an anti-choking device (under his chin) was the key having him racing better than ever.

He scored back-to-back Nelson wins with speedy sit-sprint finishes, being timed over his last 800m in 54.9s in the Nelson Cup prelude (2400m stand), pacing the full journey in 3:02.9.

Johnny Fox and Blair Orange then took out the 3000m Nelson Pine Industries Nelson Cup in a 2:03.2 mile rate, the leaders last 800m in 56.8s.

The Western Terror-Ivy Rose gelding backed up with a tough win in the G3 $40,000 Invercargill Cup two weeks later, after moving up parked, which defied his usual racing style.

Freshened, he ran third in Tiger Tara’s Cheviot Cup in early March, but was safely held in his last three runs for Mark.

Along with the Butterworth Racing Syndicate, the decision was made to try Johnny Fox from new quarters after he finished unplaced behind Dalton Bromac at Addington on May 9, 2015.

“Fox” gained a win at Auckland third-up after joining Tony Herlihy’s stable on June 26, 2015.

But after battling away in six subsequent Auckland starts, he was exported to Australia.

Johnny Fox (Career record: 46 starts, 10 wins, 5 seconds, 7 thirds, $106,680).

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SHEZONEOFTHEBOYZ

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Shezoneoftheboyz quickly reinbursed owner Peter Chambers for his faith as she dominated the early NZ 3YO trot scene through March-April of 2010.

After learning she could be purchased for a substantial sum after winning her debut for West Melton trainer Neil Munro, with Mark at the helm, the wheels were set in motion.
Mr Chambers, a Jakarta-based businessman of Australian origin, had previously secured speedy pacing filly Alexis out of the Mark Jones Racing Stables.

He was in the market for another potential classic-winning filly when Shezoneoftheboyz came along.

Mark’s former manager Stu Bailey, who in 2009 through Victorian trainer Craig Demmler, had recommended the sale of Alexis to Mr Chambers, encouraged Demmler to return to trial Shezoneoftheboyz.

Craig Demmler was suitably impressed with the filly. He recommended Mr Chambers buy her, and leave her with Mark as there were more age group opportunities in NZ.

A daughter of Brylin Boyz and Hands And Heels (Jaguar Spur-Odette Celine, by Plat du Jour-Mary Miller), Shezoneoftheboyz is a half-sister to former Northern Trotting Derby winner King Charlie (11 trot wins).

Shezoneoftheboyz was untroubled to win first-up at Addington for Mark, then beat the boys for the first time in the Group 3 Hambletonian Classic at Ashburton in early February.

The fleet-footed filly then became the 2nd Derby winner for her dam and credited mark with his first Group One training win when she repeated in the $80,000 NZ Trotting Derby at Addington on March 26.

Patiently driven three back on the markers, she sprinted best with an inside opening to score in the NZ record time for a 3YO trotting filly for the mobile 2600m of 3:17.7.

This obliterated the previous fillies mark set by Shirley Temple when taking out the 2007 NZ Trotting Derby and was only 0.3 of a second outside the best male record _ Ima Gold Digger’s 3:17.4 set in the 2009 NZ Trotting Derby.

Unfortunately, Shezoneoftheboyz broke and lost her chance when attempting to win the NZ Trotting Oaks, and went through a mixed period for her next few starts.

She was disqualified from a good 2nd to Kahdon in the Group Two $64,400 Hutton Racing Stables Sires Stakes Trotters Championship at Auckland on April 30, then broke at her next two starts, and was spelled for three months from the beginning of June.

Exported to Australia for her future racing, she was retired after just four starts across the Tasman, winning another three and running second at her other star

Shezoneoftheboyz (Career record: 13 starts, 8 wins, 1 second, $91,849) 


TOP 4YO PACING MARES

Crystal Star and Telemecanique continued their rise as two of NZ’s better 4YO pacing mares in 2010 for Burnham trainer Mark Jones.

The stablemates both showed their class in NZ’s top open mares’ races, chasing home upset winner Tact Lizzie in the Group One $80,000 PGG Wrightson NZ Breeders Stakes at Addington on February 12, 2010.

Crystal Star leads a lap out in the $50,000 PGG Wrightson Yearling Sales Aged Pace at Kaikoura in November. She finished 3rd on this occasion to Band On The Run (parked)
Crystal Star leads a lap out in the $50,000 PGG Wrightson Yearling Sales Aged Pace at Kaikoura in November. She finished 3rd on this occasion to Band On The Run (parked)

As Tact Lizzie kept going to post a NZ mares’ record 3:09.4 (1:57.2 mile rate for the mobile 2600m), the Mark Jones-trained mares both finished well from the rear beginning the final lap to fill the minor placings.

Crystal Star was also inside Mainland Banner’s former NZ mares’ record with her 3:09.6 for second (by 0.1 of a second).

The stablemates also backed up well in the Group Two $40,000 Caduceus Club Of Canterbury Premier Mares Championship at Addington six nights later.

Top Southland 4YO mare Beaudiene Bad Babe turned round an off night in the Breeders to win the Premier Mares Championship from Trigirl Brigade, with Crystal Star 3rd and Telemecanique 4th.

Crystal Star, a genuine daughter of Badlands Hanover, raced by Oxford owner “Jim” McDonald, had preceeded her mares’ races placings by defeating NZ Derby winner Sleepy Tripp in the $30,000 Forbury 4YO Championship on February 5, pacing the 2700m (stand) in 3:25.6 (2:02.5 mile rate).

She again showed her class with another feature win in the $25,000 ICE Bloodstock Canterbury Regional Country Cups Championship at Addington on April 3, pacing the 2600m stand in 3:16 (2:01.2 mile rate), with stablemate Lethal Rocket having no clear run in the straight, finishing 6th.

Her rise this season has come as no real surprise, following her good form near the end of her 3YO filly season.

She ran 5th in Lauraella’s NZ Oaks, then ran a gallant 3rd in the 2009 $200,000 Harness Jewels 3YO fillies Diamond at Ashburton, being racetimed in 1:54.6 for the mile, behind winner Joyfuljoy (1:54.4) and Imagine Me, with Beaudiene Bad Babe 4th.

Crystal Star was a luckless 7th from the inside of the back row in the $200,000 Harness Jewels 4YO Diamond at Cambridge on June 5, failing to work clear until the race was virtually over.

Crystal Star (Career record: 40 starts, 11 wins, 7 placings, $148,406)

Telemecanique, beaten a nose by Beaudiene Bad Babe in a 1:58.9 mile in her 2YO filly debut for Mark Jones at Winton in March 2008, has been a big improver this season.

After two 2nds and a 6th from only 3 starts at two, the daughter of Falcon Seelster was given a year off racing.

She returned under the guidance of Woodend Beach trainers David and Catherine Butt, quickly putting 5 wins together in the autumn-winter of her 3YO racing, before returning to Mark Jones this season.

Telemecanique has contined her rise through to the top for owner Dave Neal, adding another 6 wins during her 4YO racing.

Her wins included mile features at Ashburton in October (2:00.4 on a rain-affected track) and a 1:57.6 win at Winton in December, getting home by a head for catch-driver Anthony Butt over Beaudiene Bad Babe.

After her good placings in the two Addington mares features in February, she defeated subsequent Invercargill Cup winner Vi Et Animo in the $17,563 Caduceus Club Of Southland 4YO Stakes at Gore on March 14, with a sharp final 400m in 26.7s.

She again showed her maturity holding out Harley Earl to win in 3:10.9 (mobile 2600m) in a 5-7 win pace at Addington on April 3 _ the same night Crystal Star won the Country Cups Championship.

Telemecanique shaped well in her final Harness Jewels lead-up at Cambridge on May 27 when a fast-finishing 2nd to Beaudiene Bad Babe, but was beaten by the outside front row draw in the $200,000 Harness Jewels 4YO Diamond.

Telemecanique  (Career record: 30 starts, 11 wins, 7 placings, $102,839)


MY MAN DAN

My Man Dan was virtually unbeatable in country cups mid-season after teaming up with Mark Jones last December _ winning 5 of his first 6 starts for the stable in 2009-2010.

My Man Dan and trainer-driver Mark Jones
My Man Dan and trainer-driver Mark Jones

The Pacific Rocket gelding was purchased out of Kevin Fairbairn’s Doyleston team last December by Grant Hatton as a Christmas present for his wife Katherine, and daughters, Gina, Kate and Emma.

Mark had him primed for a bold debut from his stable at the Timaru meeting at Addington on December 17, coming clear over his last 800m in 56.1s to win by 3 3/4 lengths.

After being beaten into 3rd in the Islington Tavern Reefton Cup, My Man Dan’s good manners from a stand and toughness helped him strike a purple patch of form, going unbeaten in four starts through January-February.

He was untroubled to win both days at Marlborough, running his last 800m in 55.1s to win the Royal Hotel Cup Prelude on the first day.

The improving 4YO then repeated in the $25,000 Woodstock Marlborough Cup, running the 3200m in 4:05.9.

My Man Dan then set a track record on the grass in the Mornington Tavern Waikouaiti Cup, coming off 10m to beat Centreofattention by 3 1/2 lengths in a strong 4:08.8 (3200m stand).

He carried his form into the $22,134 Wilson’s Sports Bar and TAB Hororata Cup at Addington, delivering again as favourite when catch-driven by Regan Todd for a 1 1/4 lengths over stablemate Lethal Rocket (Mark Jones).

My Man Dan wasn’t at his best for the Invercargill Cup a month later, but his hot summer run earned him a place in the Harness Jewels 4YO Emerald in June. He had his preparation affected by stone bruises and wasn’t a factor from the back row, but was still racetimed in a useful 1:55.4 finishing unplaced.

After an unplaced run first-up the following season, My Man Dan regained placed form when tried in a different environment with David Gaffaney, then was exported to Australia where he still continues to race in claimers as a 10-year-old.

My Man Dan (Career record: 149 starts, 32 wins, 8 seconds, 32 thirds, $A207,220)


UNIQUE STAR

Unique Star, who races in the colours of owners, Peter and Beryl Boag.
Unique Star, who races in the colours of owners, Peter and Beryl Boag.

Mark Jones was up for an early challenge to his training career when the enigmatic Unique Star arrived at the Mark Jones Racing Stables.

He had been tried by three previous trainers _ winning second-up as a pacer for David and Catherine Butt _ then adding another two wins trotting for Ellesmere trainer John Versteeg.

“I wasn’t getting on that well with him at the start, so I asked John what he did with him,” Mark said.

“After talking to him, I galloped Unique Star on a lead and jogged him behind a wire mesh set-up on the back of a truck, to settle him down.”

Less than a year later, Unique Star made the big leap to the elite level of squaregaiters for Mark, and the horse’s Ashburton breeder-owners, Peter and Beryl Boag.

Unique Star, at his first start in the big time, ran a meritorous 4th in Springbank Richard’s 2009 Dominion Handicap at Addington on Show day.

He qualified for the Dominion after coming off 30m behind to win the opening trot on NZ Cup day _ the 3-6 wins $20,000 Searells Chartered Accountants Trot over 3200m, going 4:08.2.

Unique Star completed a strong NZ Cup meeting by beating the South Canterbury stablemates, Stylish Monarch and Domination, in the 4-wins and faster Aussie Browne’s Unichem Pharmacies Trot on the final night of the  NZ Cup meeting.

While he still remains hit or miss early from standing starts, Unique Star is equal to most of NZ’s best squaregaiters once under way.

“He probably won’t ever win a big race, because his manners let him down from a stand, but he’s done a good job,” Mark said.

The Sundon gelding won 8 and picked up 8 placings for Mark before moving on to other stables for the twilight of his career. He was exported to Australia in 2013, where he won once and picked up four seconds.

Unique Star (Career record: 126 starts, 16 wins, 16 seconds, 5 thirds, $147,001).