Winning treble from new quarters

J Scott Former News, Latest News




Burnham trainer Mark Jones had only moved his race team into the showplace farm, Overport Lodge, five days before he unleashed a winning treble on February 11-13.

ardlussa-express-action-4His first starter since the team entered Overport Lodge was Ardlussa Express at Addington on Friday night, February 11.

“I was probably lucky to win with three last weekend but I hope it continues,” Mark said.

Overport Lodge, a purpose built 20.2 hectare horse training facility in Grange Road, was formerly known as Grange Farm, when developed by thoroughbred trainer Neil Ridley. It is only a few kilometres from his previous training property in Two Chain Road.

(For photos and more information on Overport Lodge, please visit the facilities page).

Mark advanced to 27 training wins for the season with last weekend’s treble, and 112 career training victories.

“Regan drove Ardlussa Express great and he showed a lot of toughness,” he said.

Ardlussa Express, having his third start since purchased out of Southland by Melbourne owners, Merv and Meg Butterworth, was eased back to beyond midfield early from a wide draw.

After the lead slackened at the 1000m, Regan moved the favourite forward to lead at the 700m and although under seige in the run home, he held the late inside run from Morning’s Calling by a head in 2:25.5 (1950m), the last 800m in 58.7s in drizzly rain.

The 4YO Falcon Seelster gelding can continue to race in the 1-win grade as Friday’s win was in a penalty-free junior drivers race. Mark also trains juvenile pacer Atombob (McArdle-Tuapeka Melinque gelding) and 4YO pacer Babes Boy Bob for the Butterworths’.

Atombob was withdrawn after being declared an emergency in Saturday’s NZ Sapling Stakes. He will be freshened and is likely to be aimed at a Sales Series Graduate race.

Lethal Rocket, was rewarded for a consistency with a deserved win in the $20,000 Mornington Tavern Waikouaiti Cup on Sunday, February 13, is nominated for Invercargill on Sunday, but is likely to be reserved for the $18,000 Kina Craig Wyndham Cup (again over 3200m) on Saturday week.

“That will give him two starts in the Southern Country Cup series,” Mark said.

Sunday’s win was his sixth from 52 starts, taking his earnings to $144,468 for owners, John Burns, Brian Hastings, Syd Bradley and Christine Nash (Christchurch), Warner Barber (Geraldine), and Garry Millar (Levin).

“He’d had a let-up in the handicap and got the right run,” Mark said.

Mark, affer getting a good trip three back on the markers, was held up turning for home then found gaps with a weaving run back to the inside.

Lethal Rocket stormed home to win by 1 3/4 lengths from other good finishers, The Big Mach and Fiery Rascal, with favourite Four Starzzz Flash being swamped to run fourth.

Lethal Rocket, a 6YO gelded son of Pacific Rocket, was a former Northern Hemisphere Time 2YO pace winner at his only start at two for former trainer Dean Taylor.

Saturday’s impressive Ashburton winner Western Flare will have a crack at a Canterbury Country Cup series race in the $10,000 Motukarara Pacers Cup (2-5 wins) at Banks Peninsula this Friday.

“He always had that speed right from when he was a two-year-old and I’ve probably got him at the right time. He’s now racing like he works,” Mark said of the Met Five Syndicate-owned pacer.

Western Flare completed a hat-trick of wins with a runaway 6 3/4 lengths win in the 1-3 wins CMP Canterbury & Cryovac Handicap Pace.

After beginning well off the 10m line and rolling to the front just inside the mile marker, Mark and Western Flare put a gap in their rivals on the home turn.

Mark didn’t have to release the removeable hood on the McArdle gelding in the run to the line as he had his rivals well covered, pacing the 2400m in a smart 3:01.7 (2:01.8 mile rate), quickening over his last 800m in 55.1s and his final 400m in a blistering 25.9s.

“Now would be a good time to sell him but I’d think the syndicate would be against it. The vote on whats happening and they’re in it to have a horse at the races.”

“He’s getting to a hard grade now but he should compete.”

“They can’t really run any quicken than he went on Saturday.”

Western Flare advanced to a four-win handicapping assessment with his Ashburton win _ his sixth (two penalty-free) from 25 starts for $27,240 in stakes.