“That one’s for your Mum!” – Neil Ockwell
By Duane Ranger
Mavis Jones might have passed away 23 years ago, but the equine version lives on through a recent (30 July) winner at Addington Raceway.
The Greg and Nina Hope trained 3-year-old filly, Mavis Jones (Majestic Son – Hot Vacation – Dream Vacation), proved too smart notching up her first victory since making her debut five starts ago at Ashburton on November 10.
“I named her after Mum, and I must admit I had a wee cry when she won, and now several hours later I’ve still got a tear, even though she passed away in 2000. I told Mum I would name a horse after her and now I have, and now she’s won,” Ockwell said.
Mavis Jones won the BetaVet Prepare Mobile for the maiden trotters by one-and-a-half lengths – with a 2:04.7-mile rate. Ricky May did the driving for owners Ockwell, the father son combo of Mike Jefferies and Brad, and brothers Aaron and Gareth Myall, who all have 12.5% each, while Ockwell bought West’s share and now has a 50% ownership in the horse named after his Mum.
Ockwell bred her with Jefferies and Studholme Bloodstock.
Ockwell said he was a lucky man, not only because he was Mavis’s son, but also because a breeding gamble with Mavis Jones’s dam, Hot Vacation, had paid off back in 2019.
“When my long-time friend, Mike Jefferies asked me if I wanted to take a quarter share in Mavis Jones mother, Hot Vacation, I knew her mother Solar Fire was a multiple Derby Group One-winning mare.
“However, Hot Vacation was a shy breeder and Studholme Bloodstock (Brian West) together with Mike & Sue Grainger all had difficulty getting a (fourth) foal from her, Brian asked Mike (Jefferies) if he and anyone else who wanted a share and then try and bred from her again.
“I hummed and hared, but took a risk and paid my quarter share. Ten days later Mike rang me and said I was the luckiest ‘b’ in the world because she had returned a positive to Majestic Son after several misses,” Ockwell said.
“Mavis Jones was the result,” he added.
That was a great call because Hot Vacation’s last foal was in 2016 and then she missed to Love You and Andover Hall in 2018, and then Father Patrick in 2019.
After Mavis Jones was born Hot Vacation missed to Southwind Frank in 2020, and then her Majestic Son foal died later that year.
“She has left two foals since Mavis Jones, but sadly missed again to Father Patrick earlier this year,” said Ockwell.
The foal after Mavis Jones, the Love You yearling colt named Donttellarty, was sold to Alec Black (Branxholme) for $41,000 at the National Standardbred Yearling Sale in Christchurch in February.
Her last foal (so far), is likely to go through the Sales as well.
‘He’s a black Majestic Son weanling full brother to Mavis Jones, named Hot Son (born January 2). The Sales look likely especially now that Mavis Jones is going so well, and hopefully can win some bigger races before then,” Ockwell said.
“She’s likely to be served by Majestic Son again this year, so fingers crossed,” he added
Ockwell said Mavis Jones had the potential to be the best horse he had bred.
“You never want to get carried away in this game because it comes back to bite you and the Hopes like her, which is good enough for me. They are just taking her one campaign at a time, but said the way she’s going she can win again.
“If she keeps climbing the ladder, who knows she’s a 3-year-old filly and there are some nice Group races later in the season. It’s okay to dare to dream,” the 67-year-old said.
“Whatever happens she should make a lovely broodmare one day,” he added.
When Ockwell opted to buy in on Hot Vacation, he knew very well that the filly’s grand-dam was a multiple Group One winning mare.
“Yes I knew how good Solar Fire was. Just to win one of her Group Ones would be great. I’m hopeful her breed will shine in her grandsons and daughters. So far so good with ‘Mavis’,” Ockwell said.
Solar Fire (1:59.5) is a 1994 Yankee Reb – Sunsong (Roydon Boy) mare, who won 14 of her 48 starts and placed in 12 others ($214,200) between February 1997 and November 2000.
Her Group One victories included the 1998 NZ Trotting Derby, the 1998 Northern Trotting Derby, and the 1999 NZ Trotting Championship.
Ockwell said Hot Vacation was the sixth of 13th foals out of Solar Fire. Foals eight and 10 – both by Monarchy were her best.
They were Sheemon (1:57.2) and Fratellino (1:58.6), who won 19 ($548,064) and nine ($91,340) races respectively in New Zealand and Australia.
Ockwell is also co-breeding from the 2015 Sportswriter – Bettor Go – Bettor’s Delight two-win mare, Ghostwriter.
“Studholme Stud bred Ghostwriter and thankfully I got an opportunity through Brian to breed from her. She has left us an American Ideal yearling filly named American Ghost, and a full weanling sister (born October 10) named Ghostbuster, which I had a share in with as part of the Mighty Golden Syndicate Syndicate.
“The filly is with Bob Butt and the mare is back in foal to Downbytheseaside,” Ockwell said.
Ockwell was born in Christchurch and educated at Papanui High School. He has been a painter and decorator for most of his working life.
He has partner Margaret, two children, Luke and Laura, and four grandchildren.
Ricky May returning on Mavis Jones in the BetaVet colours
Meanwhile, the New Zealand Standardbred Breeders Associations Executive Manager John Mooney, was also proud of the victory, with the ‘s driver wearing the BetaVet silks, (the NZSBA sponsor).
“It was the first win for the colours. Congratulations to everyone,” Mooney said.