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Whittaker in to Chariots of Fire for Jones

NZ HARNESS NEWS

The decision by Mark Jones to start a satellite stable in Sydney is paying dividends, evidenced by Whittaker’s win in the Group 3 A$40,800 Paleface Adios Stakes at Menangle on Saturday night.

The 1.53.9 mile-rate win earned the son of Sportswriter a berth in next Saturday night’s Group 1 A$200,000 Chariots Of Fire.

Jones, naturally, was thrilled with the outcome.

“It’s a big thrill to get him in there for his owner, Greg Brodie, and it justifies the big move to have a barn in Sydney.

“I need flagship horses and they need to win and get in to the big races.”

Ashlee Grives manages Jones’ Sydney team when he’s not there and drove Whittaker to victory last night.

“A big thank you has to go to Ashlee; it’s a great team effort.

“We buy horses for Greg to get in to the big races so we consider this a success just qualifying.”

While Jones never likes to see other people’s horses break down, the injuries to Vincent and Ultimate Machete now make victory in the four-year-old feature a distinct possibility.

The move to Sydney has been good for the confidence of Whittaker, who won four of his 12 races in New Zealand and has added a further five from nine Aussie starts.

“He would have whacked around here lucky to win a race in his grade, yet over there he has gained confidence and is doing a great job.”

The Chariots Of Fire had five qualifying races, including three out of state, and the balance of the 10-horse field will be made of place-getters in last night’s race and the other local qualifier, the Hondo Grattan Stakes (January 20).

“We thought he could win the Hondo Grattan actually, but he was pretty crook after the race.

“So, we were lucky to be able to get him right in time for last night.”

Vincent won the sole New Zealand qualifier – the 4&5YO Futurity at Cambridge on Christmas Eve – while Jilliby Kung Fu won the 4YO Bonanza in Victoria and Ultimate Machete won the Golden Nugget in Perth on Interdominion Grand Final night.

So, it will just be Jilliby Kung Fu that makes the field outside of horses that contested the two Sydney qualifiers and, given Whittaker beat most of them last night, that gives him a right-royal show of Group 1 victory.

Other qualifiers include: Atomic Red, Gotta Go Ya Hu, Pay Me Sam, Our Uncle Sam, Conviction, Joes Star Of Mia, Angel In White and Let It Ride.

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