Maurice Bailey Obituary
Story courtesy of Mark Jones Harness Racing.
Overport Lodge trainer Mark Jones was saddened by the passing of former Balcairn trainer Maurice Bailey at Burwood Hospital, Christchurch, recently.
Maurice, who died aged 87, was a great supporter of Mark in his early junior driving day.
The North Canterbury trainer enjoyed a top strike rate with a small team until retiring from training in 2000.
He was instrumental in lifting Mark’s profile in his first year as a junior driver, putting him on a big mover in the trot ranks in Andrew Eyre.
Just two months after Mark scored his first career win with Lord Phantom, trained by his father Peter, at Blenheim in November 1996, Mark was winning with Andrew Eyre at Nelson in January 1997.
Andrew Eyre, who had won his Motukarara maiden with Peter Jones driving him in January 1996, came of age in 1997.
After winning for Mark at Nelson, he’d won seven on end by March 29, with Mark steering him home in six of them, and Karen O’Connor saluting in another junior event.
Mark went on to win a Banks Peninsula Trotting Cup in October 1998 with Andrew Eyre for Maurice, and another two Addington wins.
Peter Jones trained the horse later in 1999, with Mark driving him to win the South Bay Trotters Cup at Kaikoura and run a Group One third to Lyell Creek and Sundowner Bay in the 1999 Dominion.
Mark also drove Andrew Eyre in the last of the horse’s 14 wins (from 55 starts) at Addington in December 1999.
“I will never forget how good Maurice was to me and without fail, there was a $200 cash sling after every win,” Mark said.
“I’ve always said I would never be where I am today without Maurice.”
Mark says drivng Andrew Eyre put him on the map.
Also in May 1997, Maurice gave him drives on Sandtross, winning first-up in May.
Mark scored six pacing wins between May and August, 1997, with the then in-form Macatross gelding.
By 2003, Mark had become a World Driving Champion.
“I’ve also been friends with Maurice’s two sons, Anthony and Phil, ever since driving for him,” Mark said.
“We’ve had great nights since, as they owned night clubs. When I was 17 and winning races for Maurice, it made it easy for me to get in.”
“He was an amazing trainer. He never used a stop-watch. His horses were always great-mannered and had a top strike rate.”