By Geoff Newling
Stephen Jones is hoping Akasaki’s explosive win at Dubbo on Monday is the forerunner to more success for the talented gelding as well as his new Scone stable.
The former Sydney, Gold Coast and Malaysian trainer relocated to Scone earlier this year to train for Gerry Harvey but is also hoping to train for local owners as well and Akasaki’s large local syndicate, which includes Royal Hotel publican Ian Campbell, is typical of the ownership Jones hopes to excite.
Akasaki’s brilliant win in an 1100m benchmark 65 handicap at Dubbo signalled the return of a talented galloper. The three-year-old gelding son of Nicconi clocked a race record (61.61secs) when he beat the promising Ori on Fire by almost four lengths.
It was his fourth win in 11 outings but his first for Stephen Jones, who started his racing career in Armidale riding for Keith Roberts (father of Muswellbrook trainer Les Roberts) and apprenticed to Lloyd Kingelty.
He then transferred his apprenticeship to Sydney with John Berry and rode until he was 23.Jones then trained with stints at Canterbury (10 years), Rosehill (10 years), the Gold Coast Coast (another 10 years) as well as a 12 month stint at Penang in Malaysia.
“That was interesting, very different,” Stephen Jones laughed. “It’s been a long, hard road,” the 61-year-old said. "I’m enjoying Scone though."
Akasaki, he thinks, has a bright future. “Only had him this preparation,” he said. “He’s a nice horse. He’s a horse I think will do something. He’s always shown ability and a really nice horse to have in the stable.”
While he’s training predominantly for Gerry Harvey with 25 in work many of them are “babies” but he has plenty of room for outsiders, such as Akasaki: “I’d really like to get some more local owners and train for more local people,” he said.
He’s also hoping for more local success after Monday. He did have Crooked Stick in last Sunday’s Gunnedah Gold Cup but with that race and meeting washed out he’ll now head to Taree on Friday for the Wingham Cup.
Jones thought Crooked Stick was a good chance at Gunnedah's washed out meeting and is confident the six-year-old daughter of Conatus can snare a 10th career win at her 44th start. She has already won more than $188,000 and looks well in over the 1600m in the $25,000 Wingham Services Club Wingham Cup.
Monday’s Dubbo meeting was also a happy hunting ground for fellow Scone “newbie” Brett Cavanough. Like Jones, he has just moved to Scone and the former Albury-based trainer went one better than Jones by claiming a double at Dubbo with Avroson Our Tickets.
Avroson won easily to notch a fourth career win and take his prizemoney to $85,916 while Our Tickets won by a nose in a bob of the head finish to distinguish her racing debut.