IT’S a big journey from riding winners at picnic race meetings in country Victoria such as Woolamai, to riding in front of royalty at the Dubai World Cup carnival.
However, that’s the remarkable situation that Penola born jockey Caitlin Jones could find herself in as she prepares for six weeks in the Middle East.
Jones has had her highs and lows as a jockey and spent some of her apprenticeship here in the Limestone Coast with trainer Michael O’Leary.
With 274 winners to her credit, Jones is currently based in Adelaide and rides track work at Morphettville for the big stables of Richard and Chantelle Jolly, Will Clarken, Phillip Stokes and Ryan Balfour.
Clarken has been given the green light to take three horses (He’s A Balter, Parsifal and Second Slip) to race in Dubai in the next couple of months.
Should the venture be successful, the aim is to then gain an invitation to the world’s richest race meeting, the Dubai World Cup meeting on March 26 where $42 million in stakemoney is on offer,
The three gallopers will be the first Australian entrants to compete in Dubai since 2019. and Clarken has selected Jones to be the stable rider for him in Dubai.
“I will ride at Penola (Thursday) and Murray Bridge (Saturday) before flying out next week,” an excited Jones told The Border Watch earlier this week.
“It’s a once in a lifetime thing and to be invited to be part of Will Clarken’s team going to Dubai is a dream come true and it’s going to be an experience to remember.”
Jones has ridden overseas previously but only in track work while on a visit to England and Ireland.
JOCKEY Dean Yendall is very popular with punters but his name will not be seen in form guides for quite some time.
Yendall was all set to win a race at Terang on December 20 when Saintly Robe was well clear with 60 metres to run.
The galloper veered to the left, hitting the running rail and dislodged Yendall who suffered neck injuries and was airlifted to the Alfred hospital in Melbourne.
47 year old Yendall, who has ridden around 2,600 winners including success at Group 1 level on six occasions, is now back home at Horsham.
His neck and back are in a brace and he will be out of the saddle for an indefinite period.
Meanwhile, the good run for local apprentice Jacob Opperman continued last weekend with a double at the city meeting at Gawler on Saturday.
He had some luck as both were late pick up rides when apprentice Angus Chung was unavailable, and made the most of it by winning aboard Kungka Maru ($3.70 fav.) and Great Leveller ($2.90 fav.) in successive races.
A treble seemed almost certain until his mount Tully’s Gold was pipped on the post in the final event.
MADE IT FIVE IN A ROW
FOLLOWING four successive wins on country Victorian tracks, it seemed only a matter of time before local trainer Steve Fennell headed to the city with the talented pacer Steele.
That occurred last Saturday evening when Steele made his South Australian debut at Globe Derby Park in the NR 58-69 pace over 1800 metres.
A smart drive by claiming reinsperson Samantha Pascoe enabled Steele ($1.85 fav.) to have the run of the race behind the leader Ykikafil, and the only worry was when Ykikafil started to give ground on the home turn.
Pascoe seized the brief opportunity to ease Steele to the outside and the hot favourite quickly put paid to his rivals to win in a breeze by 7.5 metres in quick time (1.56.7).
It has been a huge seven months for Fennell at Globe Derby Park with 10 winners in that period (Van Mara 8; Catch The Shark 1; Steele 1).
BONUS A BIG BOOST
RACING at Bordertown last week was on a Soft 5 surface initially before a track upgrade to a Good 4 following race three.
Being the middle of summer with very little recent rain, the Bordertown club were under strict instructions from Racing SA officialdom prior to the meeting to produce a track with some give in it, and those instructions were heeded to perfectly.
The six mainly Naracoorte based owners of Maracourt in the 1100 metre maiden had a windfall in more ways than one when the Michael O’Leary trained performer put up a big effort to score on debut.
Ridden by Caitlin Jones, Maracourt had good backing ($7.50-$5) and came from near last at the 400 metres to win by half a length.
On top of the $10,625 first prize, the owners also picked up another $7,600 as Maracourt was qualified for the Racing Rewards SA bonus attached to the race.
Rider Karl Zechner is on the verge of moving to Queensland and took riding honours for the day with a winning double.
Despite a massive betting drift, Dexter You Devil ($3.80-$7) proved far too good for his rivals in the feature race, the BM 72 handicap over 1550 metres, beating the well backed Star Jan ($8.50-$4.60).
Ridden by his trainer Shayne Cahill, Dexter You Devil lugged the massive impost of 65 kilograms at only his second run this campaign and is clearly on target to win his third successive Port Lincoln cup in early March.
“He carries weight well and needed a confidence booster following his unplaced run first up,” Cahlll stated.
Shock Alert stood out as the bet of the day in the 2000 metre BM 58 handicap following recent seconds in the Bordertown cup and in a $100,000 race in Adelaide, and duly obliged.
A warm $2.20 favourite, Shock Alert led all the way to give new apprentice Stacey Callow her third career win and first in the Limestone Coast, and it was the first winner for the new training combination of Jimmy and Lisa Dodgson.
“Stacey rated her beautifully out in front and, after a few niggles, he (Shock Alert) is building a good amount of confidence,” Jimmy Dodgson said post race.
Punters got a shock when Dabay ($16-$21) won the 1200 metre BM 64 handicap, as did his trainer Sharon Hayes.
“It was a bit of a surprise as he has never settled last and run home strongly like that before,” the Western Flat mentor stated.
For winning jockey Anna Jordsjo, who replaced Jacob Opperman who could not make the weight, it was her first ride for the Hayes stable and resulted in Dabay’s second win from three starts this campaign.
The long established combination of trainer Richard Nicholson and jockey Jeff Maund united to win the final event with Deforce ($12) who defied his big odds to comfortably lead all the way.
FINNIS PAIR DOMINATE AGAIN
EARLIER this year, Australian harness racing authorities altered the racing season from what we have been accustomed to over the years.
Normally, the Australian harness racing season went from October 1 until September 30, but it has been moved to the calendar year (January 1-December 31).
It means that the harness racing season for the Mount Gambier club which commenced on October 13, 2020 was extended until December 31, 2021.
No surprises in regards to the winners of the trainer and driver premierships with Glencoe trainer Barry Finnis (15 wins) a clear winner, ahead of Graeme Howard and David Drury on 10 wins each.
And, it is yet another driver’s title to Jayson Finnis (21 wins), well clear of David Drury (12) and Mark Phillips (10).
The next local harness meeting is a week away on Friday night, January 21.