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'The carnival ticks all the boxes for me': Jones

By Duane Ranger

Image: Ashlea Brennan Photography @ashbrennanphoto

The powerful Mark Jones trans-Tasman stable will be represented at the 2019 TAB Queensland Winter Carnival.

Jones, who works 30 standardbreds in Canterbury, New Zealand, and eight more in New South Wales, said Bettor's Delight brown colt, Barrett, would contest the Group One $100,000 TAB Queensland Derby at Albion Park on July 20.

Art Major brown entire, The Bus, will also head north for the $31,400 Four-year-old Championship on the same night.

“There will be more coming for other supporting races but at this stage I can only confirm these two. I will know more once the New South Wales Challenge Series is finished,” Jones said.

“I love coming up to Queensland. The owners enjoy it as well. Racing Queensland do a great job. They have always been very good to deal with. They also put on a good show.

“Queensland is also a great place to be during the winter. Everywhere else is pretty cold at that time of year. The Carnival ticks all the boxes for me.”

Barrett recorded three wins and three placings from his 12 New Zealand starts, and since March 25 has had three starts in Australia for two placings and an eighth in the Group One Bathurst Gold Chalice Final on March 29.

The Bus, on the other hand, won six of his 22 starts in New Zealand ($52,544) and has nailed another seven more since arriving in Australia last May.

This includes a last-start win in the Listed Class Lady International Driver Final at Tabcorp Park Menangle on March 2.

“I’ve been to the last two or three Winter Carnivals. It’s always been a good experience. I think Delightful Memphis has been our best performer,” Jones, the left-handed 2003 World Driving Champion said.

Delightful Memphis, with Jones in the sulky, won the Mares qualifying Pace at Albion Park on June 17, 2017, and then the Bettor's Delight mare finished fourth in both the Group One Queensland Oaks, and the Listed Egmont Park Provincial Oaks.

Jones, who has had stables in Australia for the last three years, and is now based at Whittingham in New South Wales. He has trained more than 500 winners ($5.4m) in New Zealand.

The multiple Group One winning conditioner actually trained five winners on a single night at Addington on May 1, 2009. They came via Unique Star, Best Chance, OK Courage, Crystal Star and Alexis.

In 1999 he won the Australasian Young Drivers Championship, then a year later, in his last as a junior before Harness Racing NZ decreed Jones should lose his junior status for being too successful, he reined 100 winners in a season for the first time.

Twelve months later, in his first term as an open driver, Jones won the NZ Drivers Premiership with 116 wins - at the time a record for a South Island-based driver.

At 22, he also became the youngest driver by a few months to win a NZ Drivers Premiership, eclipsing Maurice Holmes, who won his first premiership at the same age in 1931.

At the end of that memorable 2000-2001 season, Jones enjoyed a memorable night at Moonee valley, Melbourne, winning both the Australasian Breeders Crown 3YO Fillies Final with Sparks A Flyin, and 3YO Trotters Final behind Locofoco.

Jones, who was driving horses solo from the age of eight, couldn’t help being successful.

He hails from a long-running successful harness racing legacy of his late grand-fathers Derek Jones and Reg Stockdale, father Peter Jones, and cousins Anthony and Tim Butt.

The best horses he has driven have been the mighty duo of Christian Cullen and Lyell Creek.

Jones, like his father, Peter, is renowned for his black and white silks.