Irony in massive Victoria Oaks result

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They were on the same team 19 years ago, but last night Cran Dalgety and Mark Jones went into battle on opposite sides of the fence.

And the former boss to world champion driver Jones came out on top, with Dr Susan leading throughout to win the $150,000 Group 1, setting up another super clash in Sydney next month.

Dalgety trained Dr Susan’s second dam Sparks A Flyin to win the 2001 New South Wales Oaks (then run before the Victoria Oaks) and Mark Jones, the stable driver at the time, was on board.

She went on to finish third in the Victoria Oaks, second in the Australian Oaks, and bounced back to her very-best winning the Breeders Crown in August that year, again with Jones the driver.

Locked in before she even travelled to Australia, Sparks A Flyin and Jones had combined to run second in the New Zealand Oaks behind Shania Patron, and then won the Nevele R Fillies Final.

“That was a great thrill (last night), we’ve raced the breed for three generations and Jonesy of course won the Breeders Crown on her (among others),” said Cran.

It came down to very little on the night between Dr Susan and Mark Jones and Benny Hill’s charge Stylish Memphis. The betting suggested they couldn’t be split, and on the track it took mammoth efforts from both fillies to sort it out.

Down the back in 26.2 (800m to 400m) was the masterstroke from a cool big-race driver in Anthony Butt, and that was the winning of the race, home in 54.3 off the front, Stylish Memphis well under 54.0 her final 800m in being three wide from beyond the 800m mark.

Safedra, the fourth foal from an incredible producer both on and off the track in Sparks A Flyin, went on to win 10 races for Dalgety and placed second in the 2013 New Zealand Oaks behind none other than champion filly and mare Adore Me.

She went to stud and left Buzinga (three NZ wins then exported), then a now Group One winner, Dr Susan.

In another twist of irony Jones paid $100,000 plus for third foal La Rosa at the National Sales in 2019, a Bettor’s Delight full-sister to Dr Susan, and likes her.

They now get back on the road to Sydney where the heats and final of the New South Wales Oaks ($200,000, February 29) awaits them.

Dalgety is one up in the series – Jones is looking to even the score with the old boss.

Benny hopeful of success today

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Four runners again at Nelson, all on the back-up from Friday, and Benny believes possible success rests with two very good chances.


RACE 1 MELODY’S MISCHIEF (4, fr. 1609m mob) Blair Orange -“She went a good race Friday, we were pleased with her. Just outsprinted that final bit. Hoping she’ll back up good today and should be hard to beat.” (Benny)

RACE 6 ROCKAHULA JOE (7, fr. 1609m mob) Sam Ottley -“Had his chance in front Friday, well driven and every show. Thought he should have run third, not sixth. We’ll drive colder today and see how he goes.” (Benny)

RACE 7 MICHELLE (10, U1, fr. 2400m stand) Wayne Higgs -“Disappointing the first day and she’s one probably heading for a change of scenery soon.” (Benny)

RACE 9 SHADOW PHANTASY (6, fr. 1609m stand) Sam Ottley -“Really good the first day. Will have to step and go (from a mile stand start), but if he does a top-three must.” (Benny)

Lavros Lodge next step in Elite plan

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Kypros Kotzikas, who raced top trotter Master Lavros with Mark

We are thrilled to announce we have secured a lease agreement with Kypros Kotzikas to move a number of the racehorses to his Yaldhurst property, Lavros Lodge, in the near future.

This is the next and exciting phase in our plan and we are very grateful to Kypros for allowing us to utilise his incredible property and facilities.

This allows Benny and Mark to work the racehorses together. And we’re very excited about that.

We plan to base the racing stock and those building to trial and race day at Lavros Lodge, then utilise our own properties for the young stock, preparatory work, and so on.

“Mark and I working the race team together is fantastic – something we wanted to do, obviously. It is exciting,” said Benny.

“We will start off small and build the team up at Yaldhurst as we go.”

And Mark, who of course trained Master Lavros to numerous Group One wins for Kotzikas, is elated.

“Training together on one property was always a target and has perhaps even come along sooner than we anticipated.  I know we are both looking forward to working alongside each other.

“From an owners perspective we believe this is how they view our partnership, as working together. That has to be and will be beneficial to all our horses and clients.

“And Kypros does have an amazing property to help us achieve this. We’re really lucky,” said Mark.

Iz it all down to luck?

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After a bold front-running win at Omakau, can Itz Alldown To Luck back up and win the Nugget Final at Ascot Park today?

Benny is in Nelson with a team of four, the two day meeting kicking off Friday.


RACE 6 ITZ ALLDOWN TO LUCK (12, fr. 2200m mob) Brad Williamson -“Good to see him show his best at Omakau. We thought of spelling him immediately, he definitely will after this. A throw at the stumps but he’s worthy of a crack.” (Mark).

ITZ ALLDOWN TO LUCK (Ricky May) winning at Omakau


RACE 1 MELODY’S MISCHIEF (6, fr. 2400m mob) Blair Orange -“Great run on debut and she looks a big chance. And a big driving change, don’t worry about that!” (Benny).

RACE 7 MICHELLE (10, U1, fr. 2400m stand) Wayne Higgs -“She has worked along super since the Coast. Some improvement to be found in the form but hopeful she could.” (Benny).

RACE 9 SHADOW PHANTASY (8, fr. 2400m stand) Sam Ottley -“Great run last time up in grade he handled it really well. A top three eachway bet.” (Benny).

RACE 10 ROCKAHULA JOE (8, fr. 2400m mob) Sam Ottley -“Racing honestly. Tricky draw for him and needing a bit of luck but he can place.” (Benny).

Stylish Memphis to VIC, NSW Oaks – under very good care!

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Stylish Memphis unwinds late for second to Amazing Dream in the Group One Peter Breckon Memorial Caduceus Club Stakes at Auckland on December 14. (Race Images, Auckland, photo).

Star filly Stylish Memphis will contest the Victorian and New South Wales Oaks and leave in a few days – under the care of champion trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen.

Given Purdon and Rasmussen have opted to keep the top filly in the land Amazing Dream at home, it was a decision made easier by all connections, including owner Wayne Higgs.

Co-trainer Mark Jones, who developed her for Higgs from yearling stage, is delighted to have the Bettor’s Delight filly under All Stars care.

“Benny and I have plenty on at home. And this makes absolute sense. Mark and his staff are going to be based there (Australia) for the next five or six weeks with their team.

“You don’t have to give it a second thought. Once Mark and Nat said they were keen to take her it was an easy decision to go.”

Either Purdon or Rasmussen will drive Stylish Memphis during her Australian campaign. She takes in the $150,000 Lazarus Victoria Oaks (Jan 25) and $200,000 New South Wales Oaks (Feb 29).

Stylish Memphis, who placed second in both the Group One’s at Alexandra Park in December behind Amazing Dream, will fly out with the All Stars runners on Sunday direct to Melbourne.

She was under the care of Auckland Reactor’s former strapper, now trainer, Jeremy Young in Auckland, and Jones said his fine work, as always, was not to be understated.

Cromwell caps the southern circuit

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Mark will send three around at Cromwell today and finish the circuit with a winner, hopefully.


RACE 2 MAHIA (8, fr. 1800m mob) Mark Jones -“Not his best down here. Hoping he may show some more. But on form a place chance.” (Mark)

RACE 4 BRING BACK LEAH (2, fr. 1800m mob) Sam Ottley -“She has gone a couple of handy races down here. Another good draw helps her here. I expect a sound run on the grass track, should suit her.” (Mark).

RACE 12 NIRVANA BEACH (7, fr. 1800m mob) Sam Ottley -“He’d want to show us some more today. Disappointing, we’d like to know why.” (Mark).

BURNHAM BOY looks for double at Roxburgh

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We ride for Ricky again today at Roxburgh.

Burnham Boy (Sam Ottley) wins first-up at Gore


RACE 5 YUKO (2, fr. 2180m mob) Sam Ottley -“Wide for the last 700m at Winton and she stuck well. From the draw a chance if she can get the right run.” (Mark)

RACE 8 SHE’S A DAGG (4, fr. 2180m mob) Sam Ottley, and BURNHAM BOY (9) Mark Jones -“She’s A Dagg was really good winning for Ricky at Winton but has to take quite a step forward here. Top three we’d be thrilled. Burnham Boy showed his best at Winton and I’m hopeful again, thinking Just Wondering will take some beating.” (Mark)


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After a winning double at Omakau, Benny looks to add to that with three runners going to Rangiora on Friday.


RACE 5 SHADOW PHANTASY (6, fr. 2600m stand) Ricky May -“Good win first up, and he didn’t really like the grass track, either. A big jump up for him but an eachway bet.” (Benny)

RACE 6 MELODY’S MISCHIEF (14, fr. 2000m mob) Ricky May -“Trialled nice, working really good. A bad draw perhaps but she’s is ticking along well and would be hopeful with a bit of luck.” (Benny).

RACE 7 RANGER BOMB (2, fr. 2600m mob) Ricky May -“Looking well past that last start run. The win before that was no fluke, I like this horse. Really happy since that last run and we’re on target. All going well I’d like to go from here to a mile the second day at Nelson with him.” (Benny).

Benny & Ricky

Memphis leads the New Year charge

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Quality filly Stylish Memphis will try and go one better in Tuesday’s $150,000 Alabar Sires Stakes Fillies Final at Alexandra Park after a slashing second to hot favourite Amazing Dream in the Peter Breckon Memorial earlier in the month.

Stylish Memphis unwinds late for second to Amazing Dream in the Group One Peter Breckon Memorial Caduceus Club Stakes at Auckland on December 14. (Race Images, Auckland, photo).


RACE 4 STYLISH MEMPHIS (10, fr, 2200m mob) Ricky May -“All things are good with her since the first run up there. We’re obviously really pleased with her effort there. The draw looks OK, hoping she can slot through early.” (Mark).


RACE 2 YUKO (2, fr. 2400m mob) Korbyn Newman, and MAHIA (4) Mark Jones -“Yuko ran on quite good first up down here and gets a handy draw. Mahia battled after working mid-race and I’d hoped for more from him. Either good enough at peak.” (Mark).

RACE 4 BURNHAM BOY (10, fr. 2400m mob) Mark Jones, and NIRVANA BEACH (13) Matt Anderson) -“Burnham Boy had to burn along too hard early last start and I thought I’d abandon the 3yo race at Gore as a result and come here instead. He’s up to beating these. Nirvana Beach has both Benny and I scratching our heads.” (Mark).


RACE 2 SIMONE DE BEAUVOIR (6, fr. 2000m stand) Sam Ottley -“She did a really good job at Addington behind Aorangi who gave them all no chance. On her form you’d have to consider her a pretty good show.” (Mark).

RACE 3 BRING BACK LEAH (1, fr. 2000m mob) Sam Ottley, and ITZ ALLDOWN TO LUCK (4) Ricky May -” I thought Bring Back Leah’s run was on par to She’s A Dagg at Winton on the 21st so she must be some sort of show from the good draw based on her winning at Gore. Itz Alldown To Luck just got a bit racy and ran out all the way that day. He is a big raw fella but has the talent. Hoping he can show it, and he may then spell.” (Mark).

RACE 6 DONEGAL GILBERT (3, fr. 2000m mob) Korbyn Newman – “Korbyn heads down to drive him in the juniors race. A definite drop from Gore race which was really strong and he seems to have come through that well. Kensington Bill looks too sharp but he can fill a place here.” (Mark).

Four in quiet week for stable runners

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RACE 10 MICHELLE (8, fr. U1. 2600m stand) Wayne Higgs -“A change in shoeing and I’ve added the half-hopples to see if we can get a change in luck with her. Higgsy is in charge on the Coast and hoping she trots for him.” (Mark)


RACE 3 SHE’S A DAGG (8, fr. 2200m mob) Ricky May -“Very pleased with her at Winton from a bad draw and she cops another here. Ricky has got to know her well now and I’m sure she can win one soon.” (Benny)

RACE 10 DONEGAL GILBERT (3, fr. 2200m mob) Ricky May -“He actually had a couple of things go wrong at Winton the other day so some chance to bounce back from that. Some handy ones in this field and top three we’d be rapt.” (Benny).


RACE 10 MICHELLE (8, U2, fr. 2600m stand) Wayne Higgs -“She trotted all the way with the half-hopples on Boxing Day and we’ve taken them off this time as it did blunt her speed a bit. But pleased she got around safely. Rough chance.” (Mark))


RACE 11 ROCKAHULA JOE (1,fr. 2000m mob) Sam Ottley -“His run was average at Addington last week but so many horses didn’t perform on the day like they should have and I wonder if the track played a big part. We give him another chance from a good draw on the grass.” (Benny).


RACE 10 MICHELLE (8, U2, fr. 2600m stand) Wayne Higgs -“She trotted all the way with the half-hopples on Boxing Day and we’ve taken them off this time as it did blunt her speed a bit. But pleased she got around safely. Rough chance.” (Mark))

Maitland Saturday December 28

R4- #5 A Gift From Heaven
Mitch Chapple

Tough draw here in strong race , the 1 looks too good . Love to win this race again but we need some luck and then more of it.

Race 6- #1 Immortal Change
Guy Chapple

Drawn the red but up in grade significantly, place best.