Phelan the pressure ahead of Ashburton

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Mark Jones calls it character building, but even the bravado doesn’t override the frustration.

Twelve months ago, the Burnham horseman was riding on cloud nine as his stable galloping star Phelan The Power struck a rich vein of form.

Good enough form to see him place third in one of the most high profile races of Cup Week – the Couplands Mile on the middle day at Riccarton.

Fast-forward to now though, and it’s a different story all together.

Phelan The Power is out of form and Jones is now in a race against both time and form to get the horse back into the black-type race during Cup Week again.

“This time last year he had the best form line, now he’s got the worst. It’s been character building that’s for sure,” Jones said.

Enter the Ashburton Racecourse, and their meeting tomorrow on a day in which Jones is hoping the showy chestnut can turn his form around and get back on the right track.

“It’s D-Day for us with a view to the Couplands, he’d want to be going very good this weekend for us to press on towards it.”

It had been hoped, after a really positive and encouraging week leading in, that last weekend’s Riccarton meeting would have been the turning point, but again Jones found himself heading back home post-race feeling a little deflated.

“I was really disappointed with him last week. We were a lot happier with him heading in that race.

“He had to do a bit of work early, but he should have finished off a whole lot better than he did.”

Again, he’ll head to the races this weekend happy with where the gelding is at and there’s the hope that the step up to 1600m on the Ashburton track, which really suits his racing style might be the key to unlocking the potential that is there.

“There’s a good run to that first bend down the back straight at Ashburton, which should suit him.

“We’ve put Joe Doyle on him this week too, so that won’t hurt. Maybe because he’s a bit older now he’s looking for more distance, and you’d like to think he gets his chance this week.”

Phelan The Power, a winner of five with 12 placings and close to $200,000 in stakes, steps out in the open handicap event – the day’s feature at Ashburton – and takes on a handy, but manageable field if he runs up to his best form.

He’s one of three horses engaged at the meeting for the dual-code trainer Jones, with Ladyswey and Belafonte also set to take their place at the barriers.

“Ladyswey is in a really tricky grade for her at the moment, it’s almost a bit too hard for her while Belafonte hasn’t had any luck lately, but we might take a different approach over the 2200m this week and see if we can get a better result.”

The Ashburton Racing Club will host a strong 11-race card at the meeting with many of the runners entered looking to have their final public hit out ahead of Cup Week at Riccarton which begins with the first day next Saturday.

Denying everything to get back on track

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Mark Jones is sure that Deny Everything could have been his next Cup horse.

And while the dreams of taking on New Zealand’s greatest race now seem a long way off in the distance, just having the big pacer with an even bigger motor back on the track is a bit like winning a Group One for his trainer and his loyal connections.

That loyalty, shown by Mark and Deny Everything’s owner Damian Love, began to be repaid on the weekend when the big gelding won his first race since October of 2021, following a lengthy time on the sidelines where, at times, the future didn’t look all that bright.

Deny Everything won his first race since October of 2021 at Wyndham on Saturday.

“We didn’t think we’d get him back to the races after his second win operation,” Mark said.

“He got an infection, so had to have a third one, but the vet didn’t want to do it. His owner discovered a new way of doing it, so they tried it and it worked.”

Those battles coupled with four legs that have had to carry around his hefty weight and power have left Deny Everything somewhat of a ticking time bomb, but there’s plenty of attention given to them each day to try and keep on top of things.

“His legs have never been great being such a big horse, his legs actually look pretty ugly, and he does have his good and his bad days, but our leg lineament seems to work well and he’s holding up.”

Mark gave credit to vet, Lindsey from Prebbleton Vets, who he said had done a fantastic job with helping keep on top of his aches and pains.

“I would hate to be paying his vet bills, but horse is worth it, and Damian loves the horse.

“We’ve been training him for next to nothing to try and get him back to the races for him and hopefully get another win, so it was a massive achievement and thrill on the weekend.”

Deny Everything is raced by Damian Love and the estate of Neil Love.

Saturday’s assignment had Deny Everything down at Wyndham for the Forbury Park Trotting Club meeting. Drawn the outside of the front line over a mile, driver Sam Ottley took bad luck out of the equation early and went forward only to lob into the trail behind Mach’s Back.

With a sweet trip, Ottley found clear air to the outside wheel of the leader turning for home and Deny Everything’s big motor did the rest as he strode away to victory in a good winter’s time of 1:54.3 for the mile journey.

But Mark isn’t getting too far ahead of himself when it comes to what lies ahead.

“We will never see the best of him with his issues I don’t think. But he is one of the loveliest gentle giant horses you would ever meet.

“But his soundness is still day-to-day.”

A couple more starts lay in wait for this campaign before a wee break is given to the now seven-year-old who Damian races alongside the estate of Neil Love.

“We’ll look to target spring racing is he stays sound. He was a genuine cup horse before his issues as for a big horse, he has really good speed.”

Deny Everything’s win on Saturday, capped a stable-double for the weekend after Bella Button did what she seems to do best these days and won again on Friday night at Addington.

After her impressive fresh up win the week prior, regular pilot Gemma Thornley found the back of the pace-making The Bloss and the pair had too many guns for their rivals late winning comfortably.

She’s now won seven of her 12 starts since joining the stable, picking up four placings as well.

Bella Button grabbed her seventh win since joining the stable on Friday night.

Massive NZ career comes to an end for Artatac

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There was a time where Mark Jones wanted to sack Artatac from his stable.

Odd to think now considering the job he’s done on the track, but his sale to America this week brought back memories for Jones of a horse who would work like Tarzan around home but step out on race day and race like Jane.

But each time Jones pondered over whether Artatac’s future lay in someone else’s care, his decision was swayed by the input of owner Grant Hatton, who had confidence in both his horse – and his trainer, to get the best of the gelding.

“Grant just let me do what I wanted, so we tried a few things and found the key to him and away we went,” Mark said this week.

Grant and Kathy Hatton. 

99 starts, 16 wins and 24 placings for more than $170,000 in stakes would suggest not shipping the son of Art Major out the gate early on was an astute decision.

That record makes Artatac the second most successful horse, in terms of wins, to have raced from the Overport Lodge base, second only to the recently retired Sioux Princess who won 18.

A wonderful exponent of the handicapping system, Artatac’s departure is a sad one for the stable, but there’s plenty of pride in what he achieved for Hatton and his wife, Kathy too.

“He’s been a great horse for us, but there’s plenty out there like him too.

“The only difference is that their trainers worry about their UDR too much and don’t play the handicapping system in front of them.”

Jones and the Hatton’s brought Artatac unsighted from the Melbourne sale at a time when Jones had a stable base set up in Sydney and straight away there was something to work with.

“He came to me in Sydney and within three hours he went from an unbroken horse to pacing around in the cart, so we sent him to New Zealand to race.”

What probably makes his career most remarkable however is that most pacers running around in the intermediate grade in Canterbury have a bit of age on their size, but Artatac heads to American still a young horse, a busy one, sure, but still young at just five-years-old.

He won his first race at Winton in 2020, and slowly worked his way through the grades during 2021 as a three-year-old, having 47 starts for seven wins and 11 placings.

“He loved racing, so we didn’t mind lining him up, he won a lot of money as a three-year-old and did a great job.”

Sam Ottley was one of the major benefactors of his busy schedule.

All told the pair combined for 10 of the 16 wins his career forming a strong combination as they pinged onto the speed and put themselves in fortuitous positions.

Gemma Thornley won four times on him, including his last two starts to the races before being sold, and also had a dead-heat win in her first drive for the Jones stable at Banks Peninsula.

Mark himself was on board for the debut win at Winton, while Ricky May was in the bike for the other.

“We’ve been lucky, as I said, Grant and Kathy have been great to deal with around him.

“They never complain, just let me do my thing and they just love their horses, so it’s great to see them get success when it happens.”

And now as one of the stable stars heads out the gate for a new future, the hunt begins for the horse to replace him.

But finding one as good as Artatac won’t be an easy task.

Bella’s pushing all the right buttons

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Never one to shy away from a challenge or an opportunity; a decision by Mark Jones to purchase a struggling lower grade trotter earlier this year is paying dividends – big time.

Chatting one day with Scott Lethaby, Jones discovered that the well-respected horseman and farrier was running out of patience with his trotter Bella Button who was battling with tie-up and not living up to her full potential.

Experience has led Jones to develop his own training method for horses who struggle with tie-up issues and upon learning that Lethaby felt the mare had a decent amount of ability, he decided to take a chance on the horse and purchased her.

“We actually brought her as a bit of a test horse,” Jones said.

“We’ve got our own tie up work method that we use and the results had shown that it works.

“Scott said she was always tying-up, but that she’d showed him a bit of ability, so we took the risk.”

The results have been almost instantaneous with Bella Button winning all three of her races since joining the Burnham stable with all three wins coming in the space of 11 days.

She won first up at Timaru, with Jones in the bike, then at Wingatui and then at Waimate’s meeting at Oamaru – the latter two occasions when driven by Mark Jones Racing employee, Gemma Thornley.

“She’s been really good, the methods we have been using to help her with the tie up seem to have really done the trick and Scott was right, she’s got a bit of ability.”

A rating 35 trotter when purchased into the stable, Bella Button had won once in 35 starts, but she’s now got four on the board and there’s promise of plenty more – thanks in large through the use of Thornley’s junior concession which means the mare is only penalised half points in the rating system for wins with her in the bike.

“She’s the ideal sort of horse for the junior concession, I can’t figure out why more trainers aren’t using that system as it keeps horse like her really competitive.”

For her three wins, Bella Button has only received nine rating points, compare that to fellow trotting mare Vertigo who won three races in a row earlier in the season and received 18 points.

Bella Button’s run of success has qualified her for next week’s Racing Rewards Series final at Addington but first she’ll contest a decent step up in grade on Friday night at HQ.

Jones is under no illusion it’ll be tough to make it four on end but also knows there are plenty of options ahead.

“She’ll head to the ratings final and then probably just whack away in the lower grades before we probably look at selling her on.”

Jones kept a share in the mare himself, but also brought in stable owner Ross McCutcheon, Laura McKay, Jack Best and Tania Moore into the ownership alongside him.

A daughter of Waterloo Sunset, Bella Button is out of former New Zealand record holder, Gee Abby – a member of the trotting dynasty developed by the late Doug McCormick.

She’s one of six runners engaged for the stable at Friday night’s premier meeting where Sioux Princess will tackle the Group One Fred Shaw Memorial New Zealand Trotting Championship and classy mare La Rose will begin what is her farewell month of racing before heading overseas.

She’ll head to Australia for her future racing at the end of the month.

Helloveamoment, Louie Vista and Major Torque round out the Friday night team before another five runners go around at Addington again on Sunday at the annual Cheviot meeting.

Love at first sight, the rest; history…

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Mark Jones knew the first time he laid eyes on Stylish Memphis she was something special.

Standing in a paddock as a yearling at the property of owner and breeder, Wayne Higgs – Jones, who isn’t known for getting too caught up in the moment – was immediately taken by the daughter of Bettor’s Delight.

He isn’t claiming to be some sort of Nostradamus either; but as he reflects on the career of one of the best horses he’s trained, he can help but be reflective. A fifth placing in last Saturday night’s Queen’s Elizabeth II Mile at Menangle was the final swansong with the six-year-old mare in foal to boom sire, Captaintreacherous.

She ends her career as the winner of 15 of her 48 career starts, with a further 19 placings and more than $770,000 in stake earnings by far and beyond where anyone involved with her thought she’d get too.

“I fell in love with her as a yearling in Wayne’s paddock, she was a standout,” Mark said this week.

“She was very typical of her family early on, lovely gaited but was fast at anything she did, but at the same time only did what she had to do which made things easy.”

Incidentally, the the Stylish Memphis story could have been much different.

Mike Reed was initially interested in purchasing her early on in proceedings, but passed up the opportunity which Jones said now, was fortunate.

“We were a bit lucky there that we go to keep her.”

After showing promise in trials and at home, Jones kicked off Stylish Memphis’ career at the Northern Southland meeting in the Caduceus Club of Southland Fillies Classic where she finished second to Spellbound.

It would be one of just three starts she’d have as a two-year-old, winning her second start at Winton with Ricky May in the bike before finishing fifth behind Sweet One Me in the 2YO Diamond at the Harness Jewels at Addington.

“She was a natural early on, but did always have a few issues along the way with her feet, but she kept improving for us and developed nicely.”

It was at three where the best was seen for the first time and had it not been for a talented filly by the name of Amazing Dream, things might have been even better.

She won her first two starts before two Group One seconds at Auckland behind the All Stars filly and her dominance influenced a decision that would lead to golden future endeavours.

Ricky May and Stylish Memphis proved a formidable combination, winning four times.

Jones and Higgs decided to send Stylish Memphis to Australia. And they tasked the master Mark Purdon with training and driving her through an extensive campaign which culminated in the New South Wales Oaks. Three wins, including the Group One, and two seconds came from that venture over the Tasman, but it was only the tip of the iceberg when it came to the future.

She came back to New Zealand and would win a rescheduled Southland Oaks which was delayed thanks to Covid and that would be her only black type victory in New Zealand during her career.

Australia beckoned again with Jones and Higgs both dismayed at the treatment of quality mares in New Zealand and her first campaign as a four-year-old proved stunning as she joined the Jack Trainor stable and won the Laydyship Mile in a five-start campaign that included appearances in the Chariots of Fire and the Miracle Mile where she finished sixth.

“I think that first Ladyship Mile was her best win, she was at her peak then. I don’t think people back here in New Zealand ever fully realised just how good she was. All her runs here before those trips to Australia were to get her ready and she was always peaking for those big races.”

A return trip to Australia the following year netted another Ladyship Mile which was enough to tip her toward being the best mare Jones has trained.

“She would rate up there as my best mare I’ve trained. She won a New South Wales Oaks, two Laydship Miles and placed in numerous Group Ones and took on races like the Miracle Mile and The Race.

“I think she had a bit more x-factor than Delightful Memphis and the decision to race her in Australia was an easy one as it meant better returns for Wayne who pumps a lot of money into the industry.”

Mark Purdon and Stylish Memphis on their way to her final NZ victory.

Jones said he couldn’t have asked for a better owner than Higgs.

“Wayne could not be better to train for, he leaves it entirely to me but was always discuss things and he is supportive and most importantly always puts the horse first.”

Although the last trip to Australia wasn’t as fruitful as previous adventures over there, Stylish Memphis was far from disgracing herself and Jones said those fighting qualities were what made her a great horse.

“She was a great horse, one who had high speed but also an unreal staying ability. I think she will always been underestimated but she raced at the elite level all her lie and performed super.”

Hard to argue with that.

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.

Stylish Memphis building fitness

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Classy Mark Jones Racing mare, Stylish Memphis is nearing in on a public return to the races – but don’t expect her to stay on New Zealand shores for long.

In fact, the mare’s trainer, Mark Jones is wondering whether it’s actually worth bringing her up to fitness in New Zealand at all as he ponders the options for the $700,000 earner over the coming months.

And that will likely see her departing New Zealand and heading back to Jack Trainor at Menangle where there is a plethora of options available to her almost every week.

“She’s working up, but it’s a long and slow build up,” Mark said.

“Right now, I’m wondering whether it’s a waste of time racing her in New Zealand because there’s no consistent mares races available for her.

“And I refuse to use her to help fill up fields for the free-for-all horses each week.”

Australia has been a happy hunting ground for Stylish Memphis and her owner, Wayne Higgs. Initially when in the care of Mark Purdon and more recently under Trainor’s name.

She’s raced their on 16 occasions winning nine times and placing on a further four, picking up stake earnings of more than $560,000 in the process.

Compare that to her New Zealand record of 22 starts with six wins and 10 placings for $175,000 and you can understand why there is such a desire to get back over the Tasman.

But Jones does have a plan should he decide to race the mare in New Zealand.

“She’ll build towards the Free-For-Alls on Cup Week and then we’ll look to head up to the Queen of Hearts in Auckland. But then it’s definitely straight to Sydney as it’s quite clear to me that Harness Racing New Zealand don’t want mares like her and of her calibre racing in New Zealand.”

Stylish Memphis hasn’t been seen in public since she last raced in the inaugural The Race By Grins at Cambridge back in April. She was then in the care of Trainor, who brought her over from Australia, but she’s remained in the country to spell and get back into work.

Her last start for Jones’ was back in December of last year when she ran fourth in the Group One Queen of Hearts, beaten by Bettor Twist, Need You Now and The Honey Queen.

Rising stars come out to play

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Two of the rising stars of Mark Jones Racing make their return to the track tomorrow night at Addington, but both come with heavy warnings from the man charged with getting them there.

Three-year-old pacing filly, Monaco Grace and exciting three-year-old trotter Hot To Trot both begin their new campaigns at Harness HQ this week with eyes towards loftier targets later in the season.

And while both on paper certainly look good enough to win, there’s enough cause for concern for trainer Mark Jones that he’s sending a warning to those who are looking to invest their hard-earned on the pair.

“Monaco Grace seems to have come up really well this time. She seems better than last campaign,” he said.

“But she’s been slaughtered in the handicapping department and is taking on horses who have won nine races while she’s just won the one. She was heavily handicapped for her first win.

“So, it’s going to be hard for her. We’ve got our eye on the Nevele R fillies heat next week with her first and foremost, so she’ll head there and then a few more heats and then, hopefully, the final.”

Drawn two is a big assist to the Woodlands Stud bred and raced filly but punters would be well advised to heed the words of her trainer considering the class of horse she is facing.

Hot To Trot comes into his return to the races with no public runs under his belt but a lot of miles have been clocked up around Overport Lodge in preparation for the resumption.

“I’m quite happy with the way he’s come back up. We’re heading to the races instead of the trials this week because we’ve really got nothing to lose.

“I’d say he’s about 80 per cent at the moment but in saying that he’s still probably good enough to be competitive.”

While Hot To Trot will garner plenty of attention, Jones actually leant toward stable mate Sioux Princess as potentially the better bet in the race.

“I’d say that’s a very winnable race for her. I’d probably lean to her more than Hot To Trot just fitness wise and the fact she’s a 13-race winner who gets into the race really well.”

Major Memphis was an emphatic winner last week. Photo Race Images

Major Memphis and Eyre I Will round out the Friday night racing team and both look at worst good each way prospects.

The former was stunning winning last week when coming from well back in the field but he’s on borrowed time on New Zealand soil with an Australian trip early in 2023 on the cards at this stage.

“We’ve been looking after him a bit, but he was very good last week. We’ve got to drive him for luck again this week from the draw so hopefully he’s running on again.

“He’ll race here through to Christmas and New Year and then his future probably lands him Menangle with Jack Trainor where I think he can go a very good job.”

Eyre I Will returned last week at Ashburton with a solid fourth and is being targeted toward the Sales Series race in October.

“It’s experience building again this week, but he should get a good run from the draw and pick up some money in that race.”

Even before the Addington team get on the float to head and do battle, the stable’s eyes will be on galloper Amaterasu who goes around at the Oamaru meeting earlier in the day.

“She’s unknown on a heavy track, but I take the theory that you don’t know until you try. She steps back down to a mile which given the track conditions will be better for her than racing in the 2200 metre event.

“I’d like to think she’ll be an each way show.”

Kylie Williams will ride the mare.

Smart placement leads to success

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Astute placement and good use of the ratings system are to thank for a golden fortnight for Mark Jones Racing mare, Kowhai Shadow.

The daughter of Shadow Play, who is raced by loyal stable clients, John and Jill Hartnell grabbed her third victory in as many starts for this campaign at Timaru on Sunday, capping off a great two weeks on the track.

And while a lot of the success can be put down to the fact that Kowhai Shadow has fallen into the right grade, for trainer Mark, it’s also a realisation of the ability he’s always had in the mare.

“She’s always shown us a little bit of ability, but she’s the perfect example of getting beaten a few times and playing the points system,” he said.

“She’s won three races in under two weeks in the exact same grade each time, so she’s pretty well placed in the ratings.”

A smiling Sam Ottley returns after Kowhai Shadow’s win on Sunday at Timaru. Photo: Race Images

The hat-trick of wins have now come at a price though with the Rating 37 tag she held when she returned from a short let up back on May 17 now looking slightly more difficult at Rating 56 after Sunday’s success.

And that may mean that Jones and the Hartnell’s might have look toward the market.

“We may look to sell her now, but she could also carry-on racing with the new Winter Series Final in mind, we’ll just have to see.”

Jones was full of admiration for the Hartnell’s and said seeing them get success was really rewarding. And he’s hopeful of more exciting times in the future with Kowhai Monarch set to return to the track after returning from Australia and also Kowhai Sunset later in the season.

“John and Jill are fantastic owners and just really enjoy racing their horses. We’re going to send Kowhai Monarch down south for a month as there are easier options for him down there, but I am really looking forward to seeing what Kohwai Sunset can do later in the season as well.”

Kowhai Shadow has now won five of her 42 career starts for more than $42,000 in stakes.

Grant and Kathy Hatton celebrate Artatac’s win in the Winter Cup on Sunday. Photo: Race Images.

She wasn’t the only winner on the board for the stable on the weekend either with Mr Consistent, Artatac capping off a busy weekend with success in the Timaru Winter Cup.

In similar circumstances to Kowhai Shadow, he found his way to the front under the guiding of Sam Ottley and never looked back winning the ninth race of his career on the quick back up from Addington on Friday night where he finished third.

“He’s been a great horse for Grant and Kathy (Hatton) – they love him, but they’re also realistic of the type of horse he is,” Mark said.

“He earns nothing by sitting in the box at home, so I just race him and he’s a real little eftpos card having earned over $85,000.

“You actually forget that he’s only a four-year-old, but we’ve placed him well in his career and he always gives his all when he steps out onto the track.”

Jones said that Artatac would join Kowhai Monarch on a southern sojourn for a month in an effort to get away from the 1980m mobile races that are on offer at Addington over the next month.

A penalty free race has been found and will become the main initial target.

Sunday’s winning double capped a good month for the barn with eight winners in the space of four weeks including Monaco Grace’s victory in the $40,000 Magnifique at Alexandra Park.

Mark was also over the moon with the performance of Hot To Trot in the Group One Northern Derby on Friday night where he finished third behind Highgrove and Double Delight after getting buried away on the markers.

“To get a placing in a Group One race like that this early on was a huge bonus.

 “We were rapt with his run.”

Ready for a Stylish tilt at The Race

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A plan hatched months ago to bring class mare Stylish Memphis back to New Zealand to compete in the inaugural running of The Race by Grins will hopefully come to fruition tonight at Cambridge.

When news of the race was first mooted and it was confirmed that mares would receive the concession of inside barrier draws, her New Zealand trainer, Mark Jones, immediately got to think about how it could be a suitable target for the daughter of Bettor’s Delight.

“It became attractive almost straight away,” Mark said.

“Being on the markers around Cambridge is a massive help in any circumstance.”

All Jones needed to do was find an interested party who would be willing to use their slot for the mare and to convince her breeder and owner, Wayne Higgs to get on board.

Both tasks were pretty simple.

Barrett Homes came on board and gave their space to the mare after initial discussions between principal, Grant Enyon and Jones and then latterly between Enyon and Higgs.

“I dealt with Grant personally first, he’s a great guy who loves his harness racing and is a big support of the game, so to team up with him and his group was a huge plus.

“I left the negotiations between Wayne and Grant as I’m a horse trainer, not a businessman, but they came to an agreement which they were both happy with.”

In perhaps a surprise stipulation to some, Jones biggest caveat was that the mare remained in the name of her Australian trainer, Jack Trainor and that he be given the chance to drive her as well.

“It’s a bit of thank you gesture from both Wayne and myself, to acknowledge what he has done for us and there’s no doubt that she’ll return to him at some point later in the year as well.”

Stylish Memphis winning at Addington before she headed to Australia. PHOTO: Race Images

With barrier one in her arsenal and a sufficient amount of gate speed to use from behind the gate, everything has fallen into place for tonight and reports back from Trainor have been really encouraging.

While there’s been plenty of talk during the week about who might do what out of the gate and who might lead and whether or not they might hand up, Jones was prepared to throw a few punches of his own.

“We’re not stupid enough to fall into the Alta Orlando camp crap talk of them leading all the way, we know that wont be their plan and it’s unlikely that they will – but it doesn’t worry us.”

“Jack seems really happy with her; we’ve obviously got the draw to work with which is a big bonus – but no matter what happens we are just happy to get a mare into the race and in good enough form to be competitive.

“We’ve just got to hope for no bad luck and that every horse gets their chance.”