By Jonny Turner
Trainer Mark Jones goes into the first heat of the Sires Stakes Fillies Series at Ashburton on Thursday with two classy and evenly matched fillies in La Rosa and Braeview Kelly.
La Rosa will step out for the first time start since her emphatic victory in the listed Harness Million Fillies Final at Addington last month in one mile (1609m) event.
The three-year-old has not been sighted publicly since her breakout win, which means her fitness levels still have improvement to come.
However, her trackwork suggests to Jones she is going to be highly competitive.
“It was a last-minute decision to start her in this race, it wasn’t the plan.”
“She had a break after her last run and she will definitely improve.”
“But in saying that, her work this week has been pretty good.”
“So, I am going in with a bit of confidence.”
La Rosa has raced up on the pace in her last two wins and driver Samantha Ottley could press forward again from barrier 3 on Thursday.
However, Jones knows she has a gate-flyer inside her in Braeview Kelly in barrier 2.
“She is a great stayer, but in saying that but there is a bit of gate speed inside her.”
“And if she sat three-fence or somewhere like that, I don’t think that would be the worse place for her.”
“I don’t think she would get across Braeview Kelly, she looks like the leader.”
The talented but sometimes wayward Braeview Kelly comes into Thursday’s race bolting in by five lengths in a slick 1-54.8 for 1700m in her last start at Forbury Park.
With her race fitness and draw advantage, Jones expects the filly to give La Rosa and the rest of the field plenty of cheek.
“I would probably lean towards Braeview Kelly over La Rosa, just with the fitness under her belt.”
“But in saying that they are both by Bettor’s Delight and they are both pretty smart fillies.”
“I wouldn’t want to split them, but if I had to go for one it would be Braeview Kelly.”
Jones’ pair start outside All Stars filly What’s Your Secret (1), who has returned south after running fourth in her last start in the Sires Stake Fillies Championship at Alexandra Park.
Her stablemate and fifth placegetter, Avana, starts on the outside of the front line in barrier 7.
Jones also starts Mahia in race 2 at Ashburton on Thursday.
“2400m suits, he gets in the right race and he can do a bit of work.”
“So, he is a winning hope.”
Captain Confetti will be out to go one better than his last start second for Jones in race 3
“He needs the right run, he is racing good, so with the right run he will be a chance.”
Major Wilson also steps out for the Jones stable in race 4.
“It is actually a good field, but he has worked good this week, so he is a definite upset place chance.”