Johnny Fox sits parked to win Invercargill Cup

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Overport Lodge trainer Mark Jones pulled off a satisfying training coup by transforming Johnny Fox into a G3 $40,000 Invercargill Cup winner on Saturday, January 24.

Johnny Fox’s career was at the crossroads after choking down badly on NZ Cup day in November, but a brief spell and the addition of an anti-choking device has turned him around.

The 6YO Western Terror gelding is relaxing in his races and growing in confidence.

Johnny Fox and Blair Orange, winners of the G3 $40,000 Ascot Park Hotel Invercargill Cup on Saturday, January 24.

Johnny Fox and Blair Orange, winners of the G3 $40,000 Ascot Park Hotel Invercargill Cup on Saturday, January 24.

So much so, he added a new string to his bow by moving up in the open over the last 2000m of the G3 $40,000 Ascot Park Hotel Invercargill Cup and proving just as effective cutting the breeze.

“He is racing great and was great for him to sit parked and win,” Mark said.

The win showed Mark he had toughened up as previously he was at his best as a very fast sit-sprint horse.

Johnny Fox sprinted up on the corner as if he’d had trailing cover, with driver Blair Orange cleverly putting the foot down as favourite Meticulous was held up three back on the markers.

Johnny Fox had Belkmyster (wide) for company turning in but held a comfortable advantage down the stretch, holding by three-quarters of a length in 4:04 (3200m).

The leaders picked up the pace over their last 800m in 57.8s and final 400m in a quick 26.9s.

Belkmyster held second with a length and a quarter to Meticulous winding up late to grab third ahead of early breaker The Wrath Of Robyn, who staged a big recovery for fourth.

The win, Mark’s third Invercargill Cup training win in the race in the last five years (earlier winning with Ohoka Texas and Saveapatrol), and the fifth for driver Blair Orange, came on top of prelude and Nelson Cup wins by Johnny Fox two weeks ago.

“I’m unsure where Johnny goes next as two weeks ago he was an out of form 4-win horse. Now he is a 7-win horse racing great.”

“I guess we have to look at the Addington Summer Cup ($25,000 free-for-all, 2600m) on Friday as he is racing great.”

Johnny Fox, purchased by the Butterworth Racing Syndciate after winning his first five for southern interests, has now won nine of 33 starts for $88,189.

The outstanding form by Johnny Fox this month is timely for Highview Standardbreds of Riverton who are offering a half-brother to the provincial cups winner at the NZ Premier Yearling Sale in Christchurch on February 17.

The colt is by by the Western Hanover stallion Well Said (p3, 1:47.6 & the winner of $2.5 million), while Johnny Fox’s dam, the unraced Ivy Rose, is by Island Fantasy from the good racemare Highview Rose (eight wins $51,409, including a Winton Cup).

Highview Rose (OK Bye-Rosewood Mistress), a half-sister to Highview Atom (17 wins incl. 13 in WA, 1:57.1 mile rate, 1742m) and Highview Jude (nine wins & $68,400), has left the good winners, Oreti Beach (1:52, US, five NZ wins, 22 USA wins), Highview Badlands nine wins incl. the 2007 Invercargill Cup for trainer Jimmy Curtin, and Highview Macushla (1:58.2 mile rate, 1700m, three wins).

Another daughter of Highview Rose in Highview Miss is the raced placed dam of Jenna’s Highview (p3, 1:57, 1 NZ win & 4 Aust. wins, runnerup in both the Australian & Queensland Oaks) and Highview Annwell (four wins).

* Blair Orange, a regular driver for the Mark Jones stable and the Butterworth Racing Syndicate, brought up his 999th NZ career win behind Johnny Fox on Saturday.

He looks certain to join the 1000-win driving club at Waterlea on Sunday.

By Jeff Scott