Ariadne Lavra builds towards Southland Oaks

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Ariadne Lavra, untroubled to justify her warm favouritism with a 4 3/4 lengths maiden win at Gore on Sunday, October 16, has made a good early start to qualify for the $45,000 Southland Oaks on April 30.

Horses must start in at least two race in southern races to be eligible for the Oaks.

“We took her down there to earn money for Southland Oaks qualifying. All going well, we will head back for the Riverton meeting there in two weeks with her,” said Burnham trainer Mark Jones.

“After Riverton, we will look to line up though Cup week and may look at Auckland with her,” he said.

Ariadne Lavra was first-up at Gore since a penalty-free win as a 2YO, beating She’sa Tricky Bridge and Crackared in a Motukarara grass maiden in April.

She earlier confirmed her promise by running third, second-up, to stablemate Delightful Memphis, and the All Stars filly Renske B, in the Group 3 Caduceus Club Of Southland/Nevele R Stud Mobile 2YO Fillies Pace in March.

At Gore, she began safely over the 2200m trip for catch driver Brent Barclay, settling third, then worked to the front after the opening 300m.

She had an easy enough run in the middle stages, then was far too good over her last 800m in 57.7s and closing 400m in 27.8s, clocking 2:53.5 for the full trip.

“She is not eligible for any of the age group series, so if she continues to race good, we may look at a late payment for the Nevele R Series with her,” he said.

The daughter of Art Major looks set to further a top association Mr Kotikas has enjoyed with some of her illustrious relatives.

She’s the first foal from Hilarious Lavra, who won once at Marlborough from just six starts when prepared by Nigel McGrath.

Kypros Kotzikas, who racest top trotter Master Lavros, and promising 3YO pacing filly, Ariadne Lavra, from the Mark Jones stable.

Breeder-owner, Kypros Kotzikas, who races promising 3YO pacing filly, Ariadne Lavra, from the Mark Jones stable.

Hilarious Lavra (Grinfromeartoear-Tuapeka Kay, by Smooth Fella-Tuapeka Star) is from a family which owner Kypros Kotzikas has enjoyed much success.

Her grand-dam, Tuapeka Kay was an unraced sister to Marsa Star (1:59.5, four wins, for Tuapeka Lodge), and to Ermis (17 wins & $191,568), the first of two of Kypros and the late Mary Kotzikas’s big pacing winners.

She was also a half-sister to the Kotzikas’s top 1990s pacer Iraklis (1:54.2, 22 wins & $1,019,042), the 1996 NSW Miracle Mile and 1997 New Zealand Cup winner.

Marsa Star, at stud for Tuapeka Lodge, was the source of more winners for the Kotzikas famiily in Erotas (six NZ wins, 1:53.2, US), Lavros Eros (nine Australian wins, 1:58.7) and Lavros Harrier (seven NZ wins, 1:54.1, US).

Star Class, a Talk About Class half-sister to Iraklis, Ermis, Marsa Star and Tuapeka Kay, left another top winner for Mr and Mrs Kotzikas in Lavros Star, who won 11 from 18 NZ starts including the 1997 $121,250 PGG NZ Sales Series 3YO Pace and Great Northern Derby.

Lavros Star, also third behind Franco Enforce and Franco Hat Trick in the 1996 ANZ Bank NZ Sires Stakes Final at Addington, also won the 1997 Victoria Derby Final at Moonee Valley, and later that season was exported to North America.

He paced 1:50 in the United States and retired the winner of 28 races from 134 lifetime starts, earning the equivalent of around $NZ595,000.

Another big filly winner from the family is O Baby (Christian Cullen-Braeside Lady, by Artsplace-Braeside Star, by Soky’s Atom-Tuapeka Star).

O Baby (p3, 1:54.8, eight wins at two and three, for $391,273) was a former top age group filly for the Mark Purdon stable, winning the 2011 NZ Sires Stakes 2YO Fillies Final, along with the 2012 Harness Jewels 3YO Diamond, Nevele R Fillies Final and Queensland Oaks.

The Mark Jones stable advanced to nine seasonal wins on Sunday.

The Overport Lodge team also scored at Methven with Maninthemirror, who kept fighting on the front-end to claim a dead-heat victory in the Speights Maiden Pace with joint favourite, Beach Skipper.

“A dead-heat was the best result with him. He’ll head to Kaikoura,” Mark said.

Maninthemirror, a rangy 6YO gelding by Christian Cullen from Classy Celine, a four-win Holmes Hanover mare from OK Celine (five wins), saluted at his 13th race start.

He led early, trailed, then led again over the last 1600m for Sam Ottley.

Beach Skipper, from three back on the inner, made the finish interesting with the judge unable to separate the favourites at the line.

Maninthemirror was having only his second start for the Mark Jones stable, having finished third, first-up, at Forbury on October 6.

By Jeff Scott