Racing season changes ‘mandatory’ to align with Australia

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“They could clean us out”

Harness Racing Australia are making a move to not only change the new racing season to a calendar year, prompted by Covid, but seriously looking at it’s viability as the way forward.

Will racing season’s soon change to a calendar year??

Adam Hamilton put the question to HRA CEO Andrew Kelly on In The Gig and it seems like there could be traction for this to happen sooner rather than later.

Racing (2020-2021 season) moves to a calendar year in Australia because of Covid and many think it won’t just be a flash in the pan due to Covid.

“Will it be a permanent move?” asked Hamilton.

Kelly responded by saying HRA members are currently looking at the proposed changes in full, and made no claim it would be permanent. But persistent rumours suggest a calendar year season will be adopted for the long term across the Tasman, something we must mirror immediately in New Zealand, says Mark Jones.

“They could clean us out (of stock) if we didn’t do the same,” he said.

“Our two-year-olds would be bought up in plane loads given they could go and race in Australia for a full year (from January 1).

“So, we must move with Australia if and when this happens. I’ve been an advocate of this happening for years.

“The entire racing calendar could be properly mapped out so easily between the two countries, the Grand Circuit races all in the summer, and the good horses get the winter off. It makes absolute sense and I hope it happens, and soon.

“I’ve said before we should have been the first to make this move – before the Aussies ever did. This should be mandatory for us to change once Australia does.”

Willison on sideline with frustrating injury

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Fresh off two super runs at Addington in July where he placed, then won, quality four-year-old Willison has picked up an injury and will likely not be seen on the racetrack again this year.

The Bettor’s Delight gelding had returned in sparkling form, charging home into third first up off a spell with Ricky May in the bike on July 10 behind stablemate Burnham Boy. He quickly followed that up with victory on July 24 with Sam Ottley the driver, beating That Alexander Guy and Franco Niven over 1980m, rating 1:55.7 in coming from last to outsprint them.

Willison, off the scene until 2021

The son of former quality race filly and mare Classical Art (5 NZ wins, 13 AUS wins) is on the rehab list until as far out as Cup week in Christchurch, so his racetrack return will not likely be until well into 2021.

“He was so well, maybe too well and gave his leg a bang in the paddock and has some bruising on the tendon so he’s out for a good six weeks,” said Mark.

“We will then scan him again and see how he is. If it’s 12 weeks and not six, so be it. Hoping it comes right sooner rather than later.

“It’s very annoying, he will miss the major races in Australia (Breeders Crown, Vicbred Series) but the horse comes first and if he stays sound he has the ability to be a very nice horse in the future.”

Willison has won four of just 13 race starts in New Zealand after being brought out the Melbourne APG Sale from breeders Scott and Kathy Robertson by Mark for a number of long-time stable clients.

Sioux Princess goes for three on Sunday

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After a winning double post the lockdown quick trotting mare Sioux Princess is looking to extend that to three on Sunday. Mark offers her chances and the others racing this weekend.

Kowhai Sundown, a value runner providing he does things right


RACE 1 KOWHAI SUNDOWN (13, U4, fr. 2600m stand) Sam Ottley -“We were going to give this week a miss after a couple of trials and two races. But he’s ome through so well, eaten up, so we’ll go again given the 2600m is more suitable to him. Racing good and hoping for some luck.”

RACE 6 LA ROSA (1, fr. 1980m mob) Ricky May, Major Wilson (5) Sam Ottley, Artatac (9) Jim Curtin -“I’ve pulled out a couple to leave is with three. The other two haven’t done as well earlier this week. La Rosa is probably the best one of them if I leaned towards one of them. She’s a progressive filly, not screwed down yet but she will do a good job. Major Wilson should go a nice race, improving out of his trials, a bit weak yet but a nice type for later. Artatac is a big horse, still filling out but pleased enough with his trials and worth him having a run this week.” They are all horses on the way up and will be much the better next season.

RACE 8 UBER EXPRESS (6, fr. 2000m stand) Sam Ottley -“Thrilled with her last week. Regan has done a great job with her on the beach. She is unsound but a smart filly. Hopefully she can back up here, the stand start perhaps an issue but hoping she steps cleanly and she could win again.”


RACE 7 SIOUX PRINCESS (14, U2, fr. 1980m mob) Sam Ottley -“Great to get a penalty free win last week, Sarah drove her very well. Thought about having the week off but the 1980m mobiles are her thing and the way she’s trotting you really need to go around and find out. If she keeps that form up she could win again. Would like to drive her colder as she does have very high speed.”

Kowhai Sundown to lead Addington charge?

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RACE 1 KOWHAI SUNDOWN (2, fr. 1980m mob) Sam Ottley – Really pleased with him first up. A bit of traffic trouble at the quarter cost him a bit of ground but overall a good effort. Should run well again from an ideal draw.”

RACE 8 UBER EXPRESS (8, fr. 2600m stand) Sam Ottley -“She’s been with Regan on the beach, not the soundest horse and she needed the change in training. On ability a chance, hopeful rather than confident.”

RACE 11 LULU LE MANS (7, fr. 1980m mob) Sam Ottley -“A strange race last week and she sprinted up well but just couldn’t make the ground on a fast last quarter in a slowly run race. Tricky alley against some decent opposition but she’s good enough.”


RACE 4 SIOUX PRINCESS (14, U3, fr. 1980m mob) Sarah O’Reilly -“Big win fresh and probably expected her to go good after a trial win. She’s not noted to run two alike but gives us no reason to think she won’t back up and go really good again. Sarah knows her well.”

RACE 6 KOWHAI SHADOW (3, fr. 1980m mob) Sam Ottley -“Obviously a bit disappointed she made some mistakes last week. Still a work in progress. Good draw, will try and use that and see how we go.”

RACE 7 QUEENOFDANCE (10, 10m (2) 2600m stand) Sam Ottley -“Great trip last Friday and thought she’d have run on that bit better. But it was a walking race and didn’t suit us. Off two good trials we’re hopeful for a forward showing here.”

Queenofdance, in action for the Mark Jones stable, and driver Samantha Ottley.

We’re back! Mark highlights the runners at Addington

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RACE 7 SIOUX PRINCESS (14, U6, fr. 2600m stand) Sam Ottley -“Good sharp trial. She’s probably a little more forward than most of mine, just naturally that way. Manners are always key but on her trial win she should go close.”

Queenofdance, in action for the Mark Jones stable, and driver Samantha Ottley.


RACE 1 KOWHAI SUNDOWN (12, U3, fr. 2600m stand) Sam Ottley -“Pleased with him at the trials.Probably a run away yet but we all have to start somewhere. Happy with him so top three is on the cards.”

RACE 8 KOWHAI SHADOW, 4, fr. 1980m mob) Mark Jones & ITZ TO THE MACS (9, fr) Sam Ottley-“Pleased with both. ITZ TO THE MACS perhaps closer to ready than the other one and the draw doesn’t help her. Nice trial win. A progressive filly with a quick win in her. KOWHAI SHADOW is going to keep improving. Place chances look best for both in a good field.”

RACE 10 QUEENOFDANCE (4, fr. 1980m mob) Mark Jones & LULU LE MANS (7, fr) Sam Ottley -“QUEENOFDANCE has trialled really nice in the past couple of weeks and though it’s a tough rating for her against these mares she’s a place chance the way she’s come up. LULU LE MANS is smart at her best. Blew out when she needed it at the trials but it was just what she needed. On her best form she’d worry most, but needs the right run.”

Premier nights chances at Addington

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A solid team for the better stakes on Friday night, likely led by smart comeback trotter Majestic Lavros who tackles the lesser of two options he could have taken.


RACE 1 MICHELLE (1, fr. 2600m mob) Robbie Close, and MAJESTIC LAVROS (12) Sam Ottley -“Michelle re-joined the team after her run at Motukarara last week. Higgsy has her going well. Seems bright and the draw could help. Majestic Lavros could have taken on the 4YO & 5YO race later in the night. But I decided to go with this one, he’s not long been back off a long break from racing and his turn will come. Should be hard to beat.”

Michelle is back in the barn and going well just now.

RACE 3 QUEENOFDANCE (5, fr. 1980m mob) Jim Curtin, and LULU LE MANS (10) Sam Ottley -” Queenofdance also came back to the stable after Motukarara last week. She’s done a handy job. Premier night may test her but she’s s place chance. Lulu Le Mans had no luck behind Stylish Memphis. Craig (Thornley) said he should have finished closer. Issue here the draw again. Looks very tricky.”

RACE 7 WILLISON (6, fr. 1980m mob) Robbie Close, and BURNHAM BOY (7) Sam Ottley -“Really pleased with Willison down south, I thought he’d go good and he did. Goose (Close) drove him that well he stays on board, rightfully so. Tougher task obviously. And it is for Burnham Boy. He’s better suited to a tough 2600m than a speedy 1980m.”

Willison, takes on the Flying Stakes after impressive return in Southland


RACE 3 BRING BACK LEAH (18, fr, 1700m mob) Sam Ottley -“You’d be kidding if you could even think winning was possible from 18 over 1700m.Sounds ridiculous, because it is. She’s going to need a lot of things go right.”

RACE 4 UBER EXPRESS (7, fr. 2000m stand) Sam Ottley -“Really solid first up run and should be better for the experience. Looks to get a nice chance but two or three in there I’d be wary of, too.”

RACE 6 SIOUX PRINCESS, (13, U3, fr. 2600m stand) Sarah O’Reilly -“Likely to miss a run on the ballot at Addington. She’s capable, Sarah knows her now and she’s not far off winning another one.”