She is one of the most exciting trotting fillies seen in years, and she is still yet to taste defeat after another sparkling performance at Addington last Friday night.
Shezoneoftheboyz has been a real 'find' this season, and last week she showed just how good she is when she won the $80,000 Paul & Pauline Renwick NZ Trotting Derby. The Group 1 event went against the run of play as it unfolded, and those who backed Shezoneoftheboyz into a $1.50 favourite wouldn't have liked seeing her three-deep when the field started the last lap. She improved one position when the trailling Kahdon edged into the running line nearing the home bend though, and once straightened at the top of the straight she burst through along the passing lane to win going away.
It was an emphatic way to register win number five from as many outings, and the icing on the cake for the daughter of Brylin Boyz was her time for the 2600m event - 3.17.7, which smashed the existing NZ Record for a 3-year-old trotting filly by nearly two and a half seconds!
It was also an occasion that Mark Jones will never forget either, because Shezoneoftheboyz gave him his first Group 1 victory as a trainer on the very same day that he turned 31. "I probably drove her a bit negatively if anything," Jones said afterwards, talking about his decision to take a trail behind Kahdon after 500 metres. "I knew the 2600m would find a few out though. But if I didn't train her myself I probably would not have handed up, because she's good enough to lead all the way."
Although appearing cool, calm and collected on the outside, Jones admitted to feeling a fair amount of stress that most would not have known about. "I had quite a few nerves leading up to this event," he said. "But you take pride in training your horses, and it is a bit different when you've got the hot favourite heading into a Group 1. The staff know I've been on edge lately."
Jones's association with Shezonoftheboyz has been fairytale stuff right from the word go. Formerly trained by Neil Munro, Jones first drove the filly at the trials last August when she had her first run back, and within a fortnight they had won two qualifying heats together - one by 47 lengths, the other by 17, and she earned her 'ticket' with the latter performance. "She won it really easily, going a tick over 3.11 on a cold day at Ashburton and home in twenty-eight. Not many do that," he said.
Australian horseman Craig Demmler was negotiating the filly's sale at that stage, having flown across the Tasman to drive her himself, and bigger slices of Shezonoftheboyz became available as time went by. "The initial owners were originally selling only a half share, and I had a syndicate jacked up to buy it. But it fell through; they will be regretting it now. Then about six weeks later she was for sale outright, and Craig got Peter to take her."
Peter is Peter Chambers, a Victorian who Jones has had dealings with before through Alexis which was sold to him out of his stable. Chambers is also the owner of the now 4-year-old trotter Jumanji Franco, and Shezoneoftheboyz will soon try to achieve what the former couldn't when running fourth to Pocaro at Ashburton at the end of May last year. "He just wants to win the Jewels," Jones says. "I have only met him twice - when Shezoneoftheboyz won at Ashburton in February, and again tonight; he flew over from Jakarta especially." The Harness Jewels are at Cambridge this year, and Chambers will have two right royal chances of winning a Ruby now that the Joanne Burrows-trained Jumanji Franco has found her best form again and won her last three on end.
It's Shezoneoftheboyz that will be one of the star attractions at this year's carnival though, and Jones can't speak highly enough of the filly, although you would be hard-pressed picking that it is the same horse if you saw her in training. "She wouldn't beat a maiden at home," he said. "She's a terrible trackworker. Take her off the place though, and she'll run a quarter in twenty-seven no trouble - round home, she never breaks thirty-four. But she's just the perfect racehorse. She's got high speed, and is very tough. And she's got this unbelievable attitude - she puts her head down and just doesn't want to get beat. To look at her she's got this amazing way of going, an effortless gait. Potentially she could be a very good open class trotter, and that's what I've said to Peter all along. So we're going to look after her."
Credit: John Robinson writing in HRWeekly 31Mar10
Mark Purdon is enjoying a real purple patch of form with the progeny of former top trotting racemares at the moment. On the first night of the Easter Cup carnival 10 days ago, his and training partner Grant Payne's representative I Can Doosit took out the Group 3 Four-Year-Old Trotters Championship at Addington. I Can Doosit is a son of the seven win mare Sheezadoosie, and last Friday night Purdon took major honours again in another Group 3, the $25,000 Dream With Me Stable/ NZ Trotters Trust NZ Trotting Oaks - this time with Emma Hamilton, a daughter of Miss Whiplash, who won on 13 occasions.
Friday's event was notable also for the fact that hot favourite Shezoneoftheboyz experienced defeat for the first time, breaking and losing all chance after 400 metres as she jostled for a position, and then repeating the misdemeanour swinging for home. Purdon himself had "a couple of hairy moments" early, Emma Hamilton threatening to bobble soon after the mobile was released. "She's not perfect yet," he said. "And I had to hang on to her until she got balanced up; once we'd gone three hundred metres we were alright though."
Drawn the second row Shezoneoftheboyz couldn't be in the picture early but Purdon always expected her to show up at some stage. She never did. "I had a couple of looks, and I could see Davy (Butt, driving Kahdon) but not the other filly. So I knew something must've happened to her. They were the two to beat." Wheeling past the 400m mark, Purdon had Emma Hamilton outside the leader Dixie Commando and poured the pressure on, and afterwards he said the Earl filly felt strong and was "doing it well within herself." At the finish Emma Hamilton had a length and a half to spare over Kahdon, with smaller margins back to Continental Auto and Dixie Commando, the latter doing a sterling job to stick on so well considering she's a maiden that was making her third appearance.
For Emma Hamilton, this was win number three from five starts, and now with just under $26,000 in stake earnings she is guaranteed a start in the Harness Jewels at Cambridge. Raced by Purdon and his wife Vicki together with the filly's breeders Tony and Anne Parker, the same couple that bred and raced Auckland Reactor initially, Emma Hamilton started her career in the North Island. Fifth on debut in January, she put together stylish back-to-back victories at Alexandra Park during February but then wrecked the formline with an early break next time out at Invercargill last month. "She's young and still learning, and it was just one of those occasions where she lost balance after trying to hold her spot early," Purdon said. Given a run against the pacers at the trials after that, specifically to get experience behind the mobile, Emma Hamilton "really impressed" he co-trainer/driver when finishing second to Born Again Cameo.
Her immediate programme from here is in the north again now, and she left yesterday (Tuesday) bound for familiar surrondings at the northern branch of Purdon and Payne's All Star Stables. "Before the Jewels, she'll line up over the Rowe Cup Meeting and then start in the Great Northern Derby," said Purdon, who has no qualms about taking on the 'boys' of the 3-year-old trotting ranks. "Considering what Shezoneoftheboyz and Kahdon have also done so far, the girls look a bit stronger this season. Emma Hamilton is tall and athletic-looking, but she's still not physically strong as yet. And I've always said to Tony (Parker)that if we look after her this year she could furnish into a really nice horse later on. One of her greatest attributes is her attitude; even when things got a bit dicey early on in the Oaks, she tried really hard to stay on her feet."
Credit: John Robinson writing in HRWeekly 14Apr10