Jones caps big week
By Jonny Turner
Canterbury trainer Mark Jones capped a big week when producing two smart 3yr-old winners at Gore on Saturday.
Driver Sam Ottley edged her way towards notching 400 career wins when driving Plutonium Lady and Burnham Boy to victory for Jones.
The reinswoman sealed her fourth driving tonne when winning with Ideal Draw for trainer Tony Stratford later on the Gore card.
Jones’ winning double came days after he announced he would enter a training partnership with fellow Canterbury trainer Brendon ‘Benny’ Hill.
Jones’ good form at Gore meant he could send his new training partner a cheeky message before they officially join forces next month.
“I have had a good week, so Benny is going to have to up his game now,” he quipped.
Plutonium Lady turned what was set to be a highly competitive fillies and mares graduation final in to a one horse affair by bolting in by six lengths.
The Bettor’s Delight filly’s form has taken an upward turn since Jones dropped her in to rated company
She began her career with limited success when clashing with the country’s top fillies as a 2yr-old.
Though now she has bounced back to her best, she could get another shot at her own age group if she can keep performing.
“She is a pretty nice filly and she is improving all the time - that is all you can ask for,” Jones said.
“She will go to a Sires Stakes heat in two weeks and if she keeps going well enough we will miss the fillies races at Auckland over Christmas and try to have a crack at the New South Wales Oaks with her.”
Burnham Boy booked himself a return ticket to Southland following his debut victory on Saturday.
Jones will aim for the Bettor’s Delight pacer to have his second start in an upcoming Southland graduation final.
“I quite like him,” the trainer said.
“He had two quiet trials before he came down, I think he is going to be quite a nice horse.”
“He is not paid up for the Sires Stakes or anything like that, he will come back down south for a Nugget final next.”
The trans-Tasman trainer’s successful week did not end at Gore.
Jones combined with his Australian training partner, Aaron Goadsby, to win with Takara Truffle in Sydney, later on Saturday.
Ottley was not the only driver to notch a milestone at the Gore meeting.
Oamaru driver Matthew Williamson won his 800th race in New Zealand when producing a brilliant front running steer on Stingray Tara.
Williamson controlled the pace in front to give the full brother to Tiger Tara every chance to break his maiden.
Williamson’s overall career tally had already surpassed 800 wins before the Gore meeting as he has notched winners in Australia and Sweden.
South Otago breeder-owner Tim Grant was involved in both Williamson and Ottley’s milestones.
Grant is the owner of Ideal Draw and co-breeder of Stingray Tara.
He and fellow breeder, Grant Anicich, both recently sold Tara Gold, the dam of Tiger Tara and Stingray Tara, to clients of the same stud that stand Lazarus in New South Wales.