International success for a local rider

INTERNATIONAL HONORS CLAIMED: Last Friday night in Saudi Arabia proved to be a career – and profitable – highlight for Penola-born jockey Caitlin Jones (seen winning over Rohlon Drunk at Edenhope) when she won the International Jockeys Challenge.

By David Gilbert

WHEN Penola-born Caitlin Jones traveled to the Middle East last month, I’m sure she didn’t expect to have the impact she has already had.

The blonde-haired jockey originally went to ride – and look after – two horses (Parsifal and He’s A Balter) for the Will Clarken stable in Dubai.

Recently, Jones received a phone call from Saudi race officials inviting him to participate in the International Jockeys Challenge at the Saudi Cup meeting in Riyadh last Friday night.

Not only did Jones compete (along with fellow Australian jockey Glen Boss and other top world riders), but she won the challenge with a winner and a runner-up in all four races.

Boss made a one-time return to the saddle after his official retirement last November.

“Will Clarken gave me the green light to go there and it took less than two hours to fly there from Dubai,” Jones told the media ecstatically after the race.

“It was a spectacular experience and certainly one of my greatest accomplishments because, in addition to the trophy, there was a cash incentive of $30,000.

“I doubt I’ll take the trophy home on the plane because it’s so big I’ll have to pay for excess baggage.

“As for the $30,000, it will go to my farm.”

Jones never lacked confidence when interviewed and her bubbly personality made her a wonderful ambassador for Australia on the night.

MIRACLE MILE START

AUSTRALIA’s premier sprint race for harness racing, the Group 1 Miracle Mile, takes place tomorrow evening in Menangle (NSW).

This is an invitational race and local owners (and breeders) Des and Heather Glynn have every right to be thrilled with their pacer Majestic Cruiser making the final field.

Majestic Cruiser competed in the Inter Dominion Series late last year (finishing sixth in the final) and has had three rounds this current campaign for a first win (at Menangle), a seventh and a second last start .

The seven-year-old pacer is trained for the Glynns by Jason Grimson in Campbelltown (NSW) and will be driven by Newcastle driver Cameron Hart.

Majestic Cruiser fired well in gate three for the $1 million race which will take place at 9:10 p.m. (SA time).

At Horsham last Sunday, young local trainer Tom Rundle had success again with his newly acquired Better Steam Ahead ($1.80 fav.) stimulator at NR 50 pace.

Better Steam Ahead gave Rundle his first winner as a coach here at Greenwald Paceway five days earlier and the Pacers’ victory at Horsham was a replica of the performance.

This time, Jason Lee was in the sulky and Better Steam Ahead did as the name suggests, rushing his rivals down the straight to score from 15 yards.

Local harness racing, thankfully, returns to the Friday night slot for two meetings in March, the first meeting tonight with the first of four races at 8:17 p.m.

NOT INTENDED FOR A CUTTING START

HE’s starting to look like Naracoorte’s talented stayer, Hasta La War, who isn’t destined to compete in a big cup race.

Potentially one of the best stayers to ever leave the Limestone Coast, Hasta La War again succumbed to injury in his quest to compete in the Adelaide Cup on Monday week.

Two years ago, Hasta La War was set to be one of Adelaide’s Cup favorites before injury struck.

Then last October, after finishing third in the Herbert Power handicap at Caulfield and in the Geelong Cup, the Sue Murphy-trained entertainer was denied a start in the Melbourne Cup due to injury.

Last Saturday, Hasta La War was a chance for the Lord Reims Stakes in Morphettville for its last race before the Adelaide Cup.

“Sue inspected it Saturday morning, could see it was not well and immediately scratched it,” co-owner Ron Brighton said Monday.

“A subsequent vet inspection revealed he had done a tendon, not the same as before, and that will mean another 12 months off the premises.”

Hasta La War has had just 20 starts for seven wins and six placings, and will be seven when he returns to racing

BRILLIANT RETURN TO RACING

IF one of Mount Gambier Racing Club’s first-year president Peter George’s goals is to get people back to racing, last week’s meeting easily ticked that box.

A crowd of over 500 was the best Wednesday crowd on the Limestone Coast in decades, with people from all the cardinal directions converging on Glenburnie.

Earlier this week track manager David Shepherdson was still delighted with the track’s performance and the future looks extremely positive.

Mount Gambier coaches have won five of seven races with Michael O’Leary leading with a one-two finish to climb to the top of the premiership ladder this season.

Black bookings for the meeting are Donation, Ranger Frank, Sebonna and Maracourt, the latter easily the day’s race after running three wide throughout.

Local races this weekend take place in Bordertown (Sunday) with big nominations received for the seven-race schedule.

BOOMING WEST

Have races ever been stronger on the west coast of South Australia?

Certainly not in my time.

Port Lincoln is the racing hub of the Eyre Peninsula and the only club to have provincial status while the other clubs (Penong, Ceduna, Streaky Bay and Lock) have country status.

The races take place over a six-month period, from the beginning of October to the end of March, and this current season has been exceptional.

At the start of this century, the Port Lincoln club had many financial problems and a limited number of working horses, but there has been a dramatic turnaround in recent years.

The club have boasted nearly full grounds for their 13 meetings held so far and have also managed to attract many new sponsors.

This has resulted in fallout for non-tab clubs Ceduna and Lock in their recent meetings with above-average pitch sizes.

FUTURE

Tonight: Mount Gambier harness race (all welcome; proof of two vaccines required).

Sunday, March 6: Bordertown Gallops (all welcome; proof of two vaccinations required).

Saturday March 12: Galop d’Edenhope (cup meeting; all welcome, proof of two vaccines required).

Floyd N. Morlan