Keeping Up With Jones

British horseracing may have its fair share of issues, but that does not appear to be a deterrent to a swathe of young trainers, and one of the newer names to appear in race cards is Jack Jones, who has just celebrated his first full year with a licence.

A former point-to-point rider who has cut his teeth by working for a wide variety of trainers internationally, including David Simcock, Richard Spencer, Ger Lyons, Mikel Delzangles and Chris Waller, Jones has notched four wins so far in 2023 from 14 starters. His most recent success came last Friday with Shot (GB) (Acclamation {GB}) on his first appearance for the trainer. 

Jones has also recently taken charge of Winter Moon (Ire), a twice-raced daughter of Roaring Lion owned by Barbara Keller, Cambridge Stud and David Redvers.

“I think if I look back to a year ago, from where we started, I’d have to be very happy,” says Jones, who is based within Rae Guest’s Chestnut Tree Stables close to Newmarket’s Rowley Mile racecourse. 

“Last year we had lots of seconds, but, bar a little two-year-old filly, everything we had was placed, so they were running well.”

He adds, “So in a way last year was a little bit frustrating, but I probably learned a lot through doing different things through the summer. They were running well, and Chagall was our first winner in November, which was great. We got him from Ireland, and he’s been a great addition. He’s finished second again twice and the plan is to go to Bath with him on the seventh for the Good Friday meeting.

Not only has Jones worked for a range of trainers, but he also has several in his pedigree. His grandmother Gill Jones trained from Upton-on-Severn in Worcestershire, while his father Nick trained point-to-pointers, including Real Milan (Ire), who was ridden to victory by Jack on five occasions. Jones’s mother, also named Jill, was racing secretary to David ‘The Duke’ Nicholson, while his uncle Tim Jones is well known to many with the racing and breeding industry.

“I’ve always been based around horses at home, mum and dad were involved in hunting and racing and my grandmother used to train,” he says. “When I went to uni, but I was lucky enough to ride out for Nicky Henderson during the week. I also had two stints with Paul Nicholls and Kim Bailey and then had a year working out in Australia, which was awesome. Great fun.”

“Then I’ve been in Newmarket ever since. I had two and a half years with David Simcock and then before I set up training I was with Richard Spencer as well, so I’ve learned a bit about both sides of town, which was good.”

No trainer is likely to forget their first winner, and for Jones it was particularly memorable as the horse in question, Chagall (Ire) (Slade Power {Ire}), won from 10lbs out of the handicap, with his lowly mark when he joined the stable being just 36.

“I wouldn’t say I’ve got a five-year plan as such, but we’re here with 14 boxes, a small barn. We’ll grow as and when. We’ll continue to have more horses in, slowly upgrading the quality. Look, Chagall and Navy Drums, they’re rated in the mid-to-low 50s but they’re in the right grade,” he says with a heathy dose of realism.

“Navy’s won two and finished second, Chagall has won two and finished second twice, so they’re in the right grade and hopefully they can keep progressing.

“This new year everything has fallen into place. Navy Drums we picked up cheap online and, again, he’s been a great addition.”

The stable has grown steadily from the handful of horses under the trainer’s care last spring, and he’s not afraid to utilise his old riding skills when required. 

“With the sort of scale of operation we are, it’s a lot of hard work. I’m not going to pretend it’s not,” he says. “When we had only a handful of horses, myself and Polly, my other half, were doing a lot of the work ourselves, which is great because you are saving, and I’m lucky enough that I can still ride out. But it’s about getting a balance.

“I think at the stage where I started–small scale, low overheads, renting a barn from Rae Guest–I’m very pleased to be getting that filled now and then hopefully we can start to build and grow from there.”

Jones adds, “We started off very much with small family and friends’ syndicates, and they’re crucial. Obviously you’ve got to back it up with the winners but you’ve also got to be continuously at the sales, meeting people, [looking for] new stock and improving your pedigrees. The one thing about being here in Newmarket is, as and when yards pop up, hopefully it will fall in right to move and grow accordingly. But really, just to keep getting as many winners as we can; that’s the main aim.”

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