It might not have been a winning resumption, but there were still plenty of victories to tick off in the return of Majestic Lavros on Friday night.
But what happens next as the preparation towards Cup Week features continues is still very much up in the air for trainer Mark Jones.
Last year’s South Bay Trotters’ Cup winner at Kaikoura, produced a standout fresh performance on Friday night to run second to brilliant trotter Sundees Son in the Group Three Ordeal Trotting Cup, surprising even Jones with how good he went considering how much in need of the run the horse was.
“I was rapt with that, a really good performance – getting second was a big bonus because we were only there for a run instead of going to the trials,” he said.
“But we were just as happy with the little things, he trotted so good and steered great, so we look like we are right back on track with him which is exciting.”
Handled to perfection by regular driver Sam Ottley, Majestic Lavros found himself in front for the first 1000m of the 2600m event before handing to Sundees Son. He then kept within a length of the likely Horse of the Year up the straight as they dashed over the last 800m in 55 seconds.
What happens next will be decided in the next 24 hours. Currently there’s a nomination lodged for Sunday’s Oamaru meeting where Majestic Lavros would start off a 20-metre handicap or there’s an option next week at Addington too.
“I’m not sure yet where we will go. Whether we go there or wait for Addington in a couple of weeks, I’ll decide early in the week.
“It’s pretty hard to find races for horses like him at the moment, the options are quite limited.”
The fresh up effort was enough for bookmakers to react with Majestic Lavros shortening from $41 to $26 for the Group One Dominion Handicap in November.
His run highlighted a good weekend for the stable with winners at both Addington on Friday and then at Ashburton on Sunday.
Sioux Princess grabbed the 10th win of her career with a clever drive from Ottley to dash up the passing lane and grab success then on Sunday, Deny Everything made an excellent return to the track with a dour win.
“We thought he’d go good, but he hadn’t race for a long time so it was a pretty big effort.”
Sarah O’Reilly continued her good association with the stable, guiding the big pacer to success.
Other good results from the weekend included second placings from both Artatac and Kowhai Shadow.
Also on the resumption path on Friday night was Plutonium Lady who lined up in the Avon City Ford New Brighton Cup – but Jones was taking the blame himself for her performance.
“Driver’s error, she missed away.”
She’ll head to the Hannon Memorial this weekend where she could be joined by another high-class pacing mare.
Stylish Memphis, who stepped out last week at the Rangiora trials, is also in the nominations, but no firm decision has been made on whether she’ll go yet.
“There’s either the Hannon Memorial or a mares’ race at Addington next week.”