Jones team ready for Christmas racing

By Jonny Turner

Racing closer to home is the order for the Mark Jones stable this Christmas and it starts at Ashburton on Thursday.

The Jones colours have been seen from Southland to Auckland and in between over the Christmas-New Year period in recent seasons but the introduction of a new racing calendar has coincided with a different approach this year.

Judging by the chances among the Jones team at Ashburton, that may be bad news for rival Canterbury trainers.

Among those chances is Mayson Shard who looks a decent hope in race 10 despite being handed barrier 12.

The filly comes into her 1700m assignment after digging in strongly after working in her last start at Addington.

“She was just OK earlier on but the family get better as they get older,” Jones said.

“She is improving and she is going good, I would say she would be pretty competitive in that race.”

Jones also start the in-form Kowhai Shadow in race 4.

On the back of two strong runs on grass, the mare gets the chance to bring her game to the Ashburton all-weather.

“Her last two runs have been good and it is a good, even field.”

“If they go hard, she won’t be far away.”

“It is probably a drop back from what she has been racing.”

Though her form-line won’t show it, Lil Miss Muscles went a strong race at Rangiora last weekend before being late scratched.

The four-year-old produced a big effort before that at Wingatui, showing she is getting close to winning form.

“She is backing up which is a little bit of a concern, but she should handle it alright.”

“If she trots all the way she had got to be a chance in that race.”

Helloveamoment made a mistake when returning following a freshen-up at Rangiora last weekend.

Jones is hopeful the trotter can produce a mistake-free performance this week.

“He is normally OK at the start, he drew 1 last week, but I am reasonably confident he can do things right.”

“If he does, he is an eachway chance.”

Tact Teel doesn’t bring the best form to race 3 on Thursday, but Jones hopes the pacer can have a good crack in his attempt to regain form.

“He was just fair in his last start, he got a good run and followed the winner.”

“He has got to get out and make it a staying test.”

“He has got the pull-down blinds on, so we will drive him tough and hopefully he can stick on.”

Lizzie Richter impressed with her big finish for sixth at Rangiora last weekend.

The mare faces a big ask from the unruly over the 1700m sprint trip of race 8 on Thursday.

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