Good barrier provides Group One opportunity for filly

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The stars have aligned for smart Mark Jones Racing prospect Monaco Grace to get her shot at Group One glory on harness racing’s biggest day tomorrow at Addington.

A good barrier draw, with some handy gate speed tucked away in her back pocket has trainer Mark Jones confident that the daughter of Bettor’s Delight gets her chance to nab a big one in the Nevele R Fillies Series Final.

“From the draw we’ve got a few options, it really does look like she’s the one who can find the front,” he said.

Bred by Woodlands Stud, and raced by the Woodlands Partnership Syndicate along with Kieran Read, Andy Ellis, Dave Hewett and Dick Tayler – Monaco Grace has traditionally saved her best performances for when she has been on the speed and from the good marble it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what the plan of attack will be out of the gate.

“She just seems to race so much better when she’s up on the speed and on the markers, it’s a big help, especially in those big races if you don’t need to cover any more ground.

“I’m really happy with her heading into it, she’s actually raced pretty well all season. There’s been the odd performance that she probably hasn’t raced up to her best and then at Ashburton last time out she drew the outside of the second row and was no hope from there, but in general she’s been pretty good.”

Sam Ottley will continue her association with the beautifully bred filly and the pair will look to grab a second black-type victory in the Group One event. Back in May she claimed the Magness Benrow Sires Stakes Magnifique worth $50,000, which was incidentally the first win of her career. She’d finished second behind Aardie’s Express in the Southland Oaks at her start prior.

She booked her spot in this week’s rich final with an all-the-way effort to win her heat Addington back at the start of October where Ottley lit the filly up off the gate and found the front and never looked back.

With Aardie’s Express out for the rest of the season and some question marks around $2.10 favourite True Fantasy, Jones feels like this particular race is the perfect opportunity for his charge to pounce.

“True Fantasy probably hasn’t been quite as good as she in her last few starts and Queen Of Diamonds, who is the hardest to beat, has drawn one the second line so will need a lot of luck from there.

“She digs in for the fight when she needs to and this week she gets a chance to become Group One placed, or even a Group One winner from that good draw.

“We’ve got no excuses.”

A $12 chance with bookmakers for the event on Monday afternoon, Monaco Grace was in the fourth line of betting for the $140,000 race.

She’s one of seven chances for the stable on Cup Day with last start winners The Coalman and Artatac looking good each way hopes again as well as an in-form Sioux Princess in the traditional Cup Day two-mile trot.

A full preview of the team will appear on Tuesday morning.

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