Jones boy snares double
By STEVE SPINKS
BALLINA trainer Stephen Lee believes his apprentice Joshua Jones could be the best young rider to come from the region after the 16-year-old claimed the Northern Rivers senior and apprentice jockeys' premierships yesterday.
It's a big call considering Chris Munce, a Melbourne Cup winner, calls the Northern Rivers home, but Lee made his point well.
"What Josh has done has never been done before (winning a senior premiership as a first year apprentice)," he said. "When I first saw him ride I knew what he was made of he's a freak, this kid.
"But his biggest asset is that he listens. He carries out what you tell him and he conducts himself well on the ground with his attitude towards owners and trainers."
The Ballina apprentice went into the last race meeting of the season at Port Macquarie yesterday four rides ahead of champion Ballina rider Darron Coleman, who has won 10 of the last 11 senior premierships.
However, neither hoop could break into the winners circle so Jones ended with 62 winners to Coleman's 58.
"It's been a big day," a tired Jones told The Northern Star. "It's a relief, I guess, a good thrill. You can never be sure, but I was a bit more confident (about winning) after last Saturday."
Last Saturday saw Jones, 16, ignore offers to ride in Sydney and Brisbane so he could race at a non-TAB meeting in Lismore.
The teenagers' decision paid off. Jones claimed a double, including the Truckies Long Haul (3000m), to all but ensure the senior premiership.
Yesterday was a big day for the Lee stable.
Not only did Jones claim two premierships, but Lee also claimed the Northern Rivers trainers' premiership, his second in a row. "We cleaned them up," Lee chuckled. "It's a pretty big feat to get three premierships in one stable."