By Grahame Timbrell
Long-time trainer Stephen Jones has moved his stable to Scone from the Gold Coast and could make an immediate impact at his new home track on Sunday.
Jones will start Sportstar Samuel in the Segenhoe Stud Benchmark 65 (2200m), one of 18 horses he has brought south with at least another eight still to come.
Jones trained out of Rosehill for many years but when developers moved in 13 years ago sold his stables and moved to the Gold Coast.
However reductions in prize money in Queensland prompted him to move back over the border.
“I have trained for Gerry Harvey for many years and he and Stuart Ramsey both urged me to move to Scone so here we are,” Jones said.
“It is a marvellous track with outstanding training facilities and I wish I had done it sooner.
“In all the years I was training in Sydney I never had a runner at Scone.
“So far all of my Queensland clients have been happy for me to bring their horses down here but I am also looking for new clients.
“The move has taken about six weeks but apart from the other horses still to come down we are just about settled in.
“My partner, Tracey Rodger, has a daughter at university in Sydney and they are loving being a lot closer.”
Jones has no worries about Sportstar Samuel, the only three-year-old in the race, handling the testing 2200 metres.
“He would run two miles on his ear,” Jones said.
“The horse will settle well back but he has a powerful finish and he is going to love that long straight.”
Three starts back Sportstar Samuel won a 2150m maiden at Ipswich, ran eighth over 2100m at Lismore then was getting home well when fourth at the Sunshine Coast.
“He got too far back at Lismore and you can’t do that on that track,” Jones said. Jeff Penza will ride the three-year-old, re-igniting an old friendship.
“Jeff rode a lot of winners for me when I was in Sydney and we have been mates for a long time,” Jones said.
Meanwhile Greg Bennett will kick off his bid to win another Country Championship final when Invienna resumes in the Newgate Class Three (1100m).
Invienna will be one of four and possibly more horses Bennett is planning to aim at the Hunter and North West heat to be run at Scone over 1400m on 5 March.
“Apart from Invienna I also hope to try and qualify All Summer Long, Sassaby and Mister Marmalade and there might be one or two more,” Bennett said.
Last year Bennett won the championship final with Clearly Innocent which then went on to win the Listed Luskin Star at the Scone carnival.
Invienna just missed qualifying for last year’s championship final after being beaten into fourth place by a matter of inches in the Scone heat, then running fifth in the Wild Card at Muswellbrook.
She resumes here off a lengthy spell and has a great first up record and a good record on her home track.
SELECTIONS: 1-1.40, CRESSFIELD 2YO, 1100m: PERAST 1, Lets Get Nauti Gal 2, Luddenham Lass 3, Star Boom 4. 2-2.19, SCONE TOYOTA MAIDEN, 1300m: FORREEL 1, Volomite 2, General Artie 3, Bluesbro 4. 3-2.53, SEGENHOE STUD BENCHMARK 65, 2200m: SPORTSTAR SAMUEL 1, Steam Machine 2, The Bohemian 3, Lord Zof 4. 4-3.27, SCONE EQUINE HOSPITAL MAIDEN, 900m: DOT COM DOT AY YOU 1, Girl Most Likely 2, Zar Gold 3, No Cussin’ 4. 5-4.05, PLUCK @ VINERY CLASS TWO, 1600m: TILBURY LODGE 1, Cloudscape 2, Cervinia 3, Our Tax Return 4. 6-4.40, BUY A TURANGGA BOBS YEARLING CLASS ONE, 900m: YEOMAN 1, Aristograts 2, Chappie 3, Deckfast 4. 7-5.15, NEWGATE CLASS THREE 1100m: INVIENNA 1, Dynamic Dynasty 2, Touch Sensitive 3, Malverna 4. Best Bets: Yeoman, Invienna.