Careful plan upset by wide Addington draw
By Garrick Knight
The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.
The men in the case are Mark Jones and Benny Hill, co-trainers of exciting filly Stylish Memphis.
And the plan was to keep her at home for a $22,000 Sires Stakes Series heat at Addington tonight against inferior opposition to what she would meet in the next heat, in Auckland next Friday.
But that’s come unstuck somewhat with the daughter of Bettor’s Delight drawing the outside barrier draw over the sprint trip this week.
“We’ve done it on purpose to try and qualify her down here because the field up north will be pretty hot,” said Jones.
“If she’s good enough, she’s good enough; the wide draw is a concern but she’s got good gate speed and high tactical speed.”
The $150,000 Final is at Alexandra Park on New Year’s Eve and Stylish Memphis will go north for it if she can run in the first three tonight.
She resumed with a fortuitous win at Wyndham nearly three weeks ago, though Jones felt she could have been better.
“She probably should have won by more, but seemed to knock off when she hit the front.”
Since then, a workout run at Rangiora, where she flashed home late in quick time, impressed Jones and told him she was on track.
Despite the wide draw, bookies opened her a $2.70 equal favourite alongside Sugar Loaf, who was mightily impressive winning her debut on New Zealand Cup day for Robert Dunn.
“Sugar Loaf has got the raps, and Nigel McGrath’s one (Miss Graceful) looks an exciting filly in the making, too.
“But all things being equal, I’d go my one to beat them if she races up to her ability.”
The expectations are high with Stylish Memphis, a full sister to multiple Group 1-placed filly-turned-mare, Delightful Memphis, who is now racing in America.
“I actually think she’s got more sheer speed and a touch more brilliance than her sister, but Delightful Memphis probably wasn’t appreciated as much as she should have been.
“She was in a crop with Spanish Armada and Partyon.”
The stable also has last-start winner Fancy in the race and she’s drawn mid-front line.
“She got her own terms but won well last time. A nice progressive filly that I can see winning four or five races.
“We’ll probably look to take her down for the Southland Oaks after this.”
Later in the night, Skippys Delight will go around in the $24,000 Sires Stakes Silver, a five-horse affair, and Jones expects better luck than he had in the main final on New Zealand Cup day.
“I thought his run in the final was good; he got held up and lost ground but still found the line well.
“I know Benny is pretty happy with him.”
Stablemate Silent Major has been scratched from the same race after being dealt to Australian interests earlier in the week, as has another from the barn in Philadelphia Freedom.
In the last on the card the stable lines up Nirvana Beach and Willison, Jones thinking the latter can win it before heading out for a spell.
“He’s come to the end of it but is a Derby type of horse.
“Looking for the paddock but I expect he should be able to handle that field.
“Nirvana Beach hates Ashburton so best to forget that last run.
“He’s got the right draw here and that will help.”