Southland looms large in Saveapatrol's short-term future, but
the impressive pacer may find himself campaigning at
Addington or in Australia before the season is out.
The 3yr-old Christian Cullen gelding has given Burnham
trainer-driver Mark Jones plenty to think about ever since he
was given the horse as a weanling through owner Grant Hatton.
He goes into tomorrow's assignment at Ascot Park unbeaten
from two starts, even if Jones was not completely satisfied
with the win at the same venue on January 17.
''He was too good for them, but I was a shade disappointed,''
''I probably had him a run short, too. I'd like to think
he'll improve with the run because I thought he could have
won a wee bit better, but it wasn't the best day.''
A $10,000 3yr-old mobile event programmed for the meeting
failed to attract enough nominations which frustrated Jones,
particularly as there was a Harness Plus bonus available for
Saveapatrol if he won. Instead, he will line up in a 1-2 win
pace from behind the tapes.
''He's had one [standing start] and began well, so it's well
within his range, put it that way.''
Once Saveapatrol is safely through tomorrow's 2700m event,
Jones will have to weigh up the potential talent in his
compact pacer with the quality of his rivals. The Victoria
Derby on February 2 will give Jones a good guide for
Saveapatrol's short-term future, as he decides whether to
send him to the New South Wales Derby on March 3, an option
he describes as ''50-50'' at this stage.
''We'll probably watch the Victoria Derby to see how the
Kiwis measure up to the Australian ones, as they look quite
strong this year. Probably, the New Zealand Derby is the only
realistic goal if he does race in a derby but he's got to
step up, too.''
Saveapatrol's two starts in Southland to date have qualified
him for a place in the $25,000 Autumn Futurity in March and
the $40,000 group 2 Southern Supremacy Stakes in April.
Ohoka Texas will be back to his regular tactics when Jones
takes him out on to the track for the group 3 Invercargill
Jones was slightly disappointed in Ohoka Texas, even though
he finished a game second to Samuel James at Addington last
''He should have won that, but everything suits this week -
two miles, not a big field and it's probably not the
strongest Invercargill Cup field.''