Mark Jones doesn’t drive a whole lot these days – but as they say it’s just like riding a bike.
So the call-up to drive Our Uncle Sam in next Tuesday’s $750,000 Christchurch Casino New Zealand Trotting Cup at Addington won’t be a problem for the former World Driving Champion (2003) despite being the veteran of just three race drives this season.
Trainer Chris Frisby is staying with Mark on his trip across the Tasman with the gun New South Wales pacer.
And though things haven’t gone right so far after two unsuccessful runs at Ashburton and Kaikoura, the white flag is definitely not going up.
“Not what we wanted at Kaikoura, but we are here and we’re keen to run on Tuesday,” said Frisby on Wednesday.
Our Uncle Sam broke from the standing start and lost all chance at Kaikoura, though he was on the backward step when the barriers went and that’s something both he and Jones can rectify in the days since and ahead of Tuesday.
“I drove Mighty Flying Mac for Cran (Dalgety) three years ago, that was my last drive in the Cup,” said Mark.
“And I should have won it for Cran (1999) with All Our Fella. He jumped away and the favourites galloped and it ended up being a false start – he’d have won that. He still ran fifth (in the second attempt).”
Jones has driven in 11,909 races in New Zealand, winning 1442, second in 1209, and third in 1064 for just shy of $13 million in stakes.
He began his career on November 6, 1996 as a junior driver when his first drive, Lord Phantom, won at Marlborough. His father Peter trained the horse.
Amazingly, that is exactly 23-years ago today!
Chris Frisby could be onto something….