You could forgive Mark Jones for having his attention split
between islands tonight.
The Burnham-based horseman is in Auckland with his exciting
trotter Master Lavros, but he also has two square-gaiters
entered at Forbury Park.
Stable representatives will arrive in Dunedin with Commander
Jewel and Juneamy Castleton, and Jones sees no reason why
their 30m handicaps should be insurmountable.
Commander Galleon (race 2) has come back from her spell in
excellent form, following up a fresh-up third at Orari with a
win off 10m at Timaru on Saturday. She drops back another 20m
behind the front line this week, but Jones is not fazed by
''She's normally a good beginner, and I thought she was
pretty well-placed [in tonight's event],'' he said.
''She's improved in her two runs. I thought she would have
won [at Orari], but she did well at Timaru.''
Jones is conscious that the 2011 New Zealand Trotting Oaks
winner is creeping up the grades and retirement may be near
once the next breeding season comes around.
''She's probably getting into a hard grade - if she wins [at
Forbury Park], she'll be racing the free-for-all horses,
probably. She'll go for another 12 months and then she'll be
put into foal.''
Juneamy Castleton was originally heading to Waimate on
Sunday, but her owners, Lex And Heather Williams, had Cup Day
Spur entered in the same Waimate race, so the decision was
made to send her to Dunedin for the 0-2w special handicap
The 30m handicap over the shorter 2200m does make the
Majestic Son filly's task harder, but she certainly earned
her handicap with her win at Methven on Sunday.
''Besides Russell Galleon, she should be able to handle the
rest of them.''
Jones is enjoying the ride with Master Lavros as he continues
to blow his opposition away. Master Lavros meets the
Mosgiel-trained The Fiery Ginga and last week's rival Stent
in race 1 at Alexandra Park tonight as he looks to extend his
unbeaten streak to seven.
''Even though he won last week [by a length over Stent], he's
probably better than what he went. With what he's done, you
can't ask for much more.''
Jones knows he has a special trotter on his hands, so he is
treading carefully before he contemplates taking on the
mighty I Can Doosit.
''He won't do a lot of racing for the rest of this season. He
may have two more starts up there, and maybe the Trotters
Championship [at Addington in March] and then the Jewels.''
- Matt Smith