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Horse Racing: One of the few to hit heights on Flat and over jumps.

Byline: John Randall

TOM JONES, who died on Wednesday aged 82, was one of the few trainers to achieve consistent top-level success both over jumps and on the Flat.

Most of his best horses were jumpers, notably Frenchman's Cove (Whitbread Gold Cup, King George VI Chase), Champion Hurdle runner-up Chorus, Parlour Moor, Frozen Alive, Clever Scot, Sweet Joe, John Cherry and, above all, Tingle Creek, the flamboyant champion two-mile chaser.

He also trained Classic winners Athens Wood (St Leger), Touching Wood (St Leger, Irish St Leger) and Al Bahathri (Irish 1,000 Guineas), and champion two-year-old filly Devon Ditty.

He also helped to introduce the Maktoum family to British racing, and among his assistants were Sir Michael Stoute, Alec Stewart and Alex Scott.

Harry Thomson Jones was born at Amesbury, Wiltshire, on April 28, 1925. His father, Victor Jones, was an army officer in India, and before the war he spent school holidays working for Sam Armstrong in Yorkshire.

Educated at Eton, he became a cavalry officer in the 1st Royal Dragoons in 1943, and saw wartime action in Belgium, Holland and Germany.

On being demobbed in 1947 he became assistant to Bob Fetherstonhaugh at the Curragh on the recommendation of his former brother officer Victor McCalmont, who later had London Gazette and Red Tears in training with him.

After 18 months he joined Sam Armstrong - now in Newmarket - and in 1950 he married Solna Joel, daughter of diamond heir Stanhope Joel. They had two sons, Chris and Tim, and a daughter, Diana.

He set up as a trainer at Woodlands stables in Newmarket for the start of the 1952 season and his first winner was Coquet Light at Kempton that May.

Despite early Flat success with Our Betters (1954 Lowther Stakes), Saucepan (1962 Imperial Stakes) and London Gazette (1963 Churchill Stakes), he was primarily a jumps trainer until the 1970s.

His father-in-law owned both Our Betters and his first top-class horse, Frenchman's Cove, whose victories in the Coventry (now Racing Post) Chase and Whitbread Gold Cup in 1962 took him into fourth place in that season's trainers' table - higher than he ever finished in the Flat equivalent.

Frenchman's Cove started favourite for the 1962 Grand National, and was going well when brought down at the 19th fence. He later acquired a reputation for unreliability but won a two-horse race for the 1964 King George VI Chase.

Jones's first two Cheltenham Festival winners were Red Tears (1965) and Chorus (1967) in divisions of the Gloucestershire (now Supreme Novices') Hurdle.

Chorus, in terms of absolute merit the best horse of any kind he ever trained, also won the Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown and started favourite for the 1968 Champion Hurdle. He would have won many renewals of the race but had to settle for second place behind the great Persian War.

Jones gained his revenge on Persian War in the 1970 Welsh Champion Hurdle with his champion juvenile Frozen Alive, who also won the Champion Novice Hurdle.

In 1971 he won the latter race again with Ouzo and the Aldsworth (later Sun Alliance) Hurdle with Midsprite, while Clever Scot proved himself the champion staying hurdler by following Park Ranger (1968) as the trainer's second winner of the Spa (now World) Hurdle.

The following year Clever Scot and Parlour Moor both scored their second Cheltenham Festival victories for him. Clever Scot landed the Totalisator Champion (now Royal & SunAlliance) Chase, and Parlour Moor added to his 1969 George Duller Hurdle win in the Spa Hurdle.

The rider of Frenchman's Cove, Frozen Alive, Ouzo and many others was Stan Mellor, his stable jockey for many years.

In 1971 Athens Wood became the trainer's first Classic winner. Owned by his wife's aunt Eileen Rogerson, he was fifth in Mill Reef's Derby, and won the Gordon and Great Voltigeur Stakes before leading all the way in the St Leger and fighting off several challenges under Lester Piggott's driving to beat Homeric by a neck.

Earlier that year Jones had won the Ribblesdale Stakes and Yorkshire Oaks with Fleet Wahine.

But all his other horses paled by comparison with Tingle Creek, the charismatic ex-American two-mile chaser who won 23 races in Britain and thrilled crowds with many spectacular frontrunning, bold-jumping displays.

Tingle Creek was unsuited to Cheltenham but was a champion seen to best effect at Sandown, where he won the Benson & Hedges Chase in 1973 - now the Grade 1 event renamed in his honour - and the Sandown Handicap Pattern Chase three times.

The 12-year-old scored his third victory in the race in November 1978 in the last outing of his career, and it was an emotional and inspiring occasion as he scored in record time.

Jones's patrons included Lord Lucan and Jimmy Goldsmith, owner of 1974 Massey-Ferguson Gold Cup winner Garnishee. His American owners included Ogden Phipps (Midsprite), Richard Ohrstrom (Fleet Wahine), Helen Whittaker (Tingle Creek) and Milton Ritzenberg, who owned Clever Scot, Sweet Joe and John Cherry, the Queen Alexandra Stakes, Prix Gladiateur and dual Long Walk Hurdle winner.

Sweet Joe in the 1978 Sun Alliance Chase gave him the last of his 12 Cheltenham Festival victories. Now based at Green Lodge, he decided to concentrate almost exclusively on the Flat, mainly for financial reasons.

The only Flat champion he ever trained was Devon Ditty, Britain's top two-year-old filly of 1978 at the same time as Tingle Creek was the champion two-mile chaser. Sir Edwin McAlpine's filly won the Cherry Hinton, Princess Margaret, Lowther, Flying Childers and Cheveley Park Stakes, but disappointed as a three-year-old.

But the most significant success of Jones's career was with Mushref in a minor event at Redcar in July 1980, as that colt was the first winner owned by Hamdan Al Maktoum. The Dubai sheikh soon became by far his biggest patron.

It was for that owner's elder brother, Maktoum Al Maktoum, that he trained dual Classic winner Touching Wood. Ridden by Paul Cook, Touching Wood was a maiden when second to Golden Fleece in the 1982 Derby, went one better in the St Leger, and followed up in the Irish St Leger.

His first Group 1 winner for Sheikh Hamdan was At Talaq, who, after finishing fourth in the 1984 Derby at 250-1, won the Grand Prix de Paris. On being transferred to Australia, he won the Melbourne Cup in 1986.

Jones's best filly for his main owner was Al Bahathri, who won the Lowther Stakes and in 1985 was beaten a short head by Oh So Sharp in the 1,000 Guineas before scoring game front-running victories under Tony Murray in the Irish 1,000 Guineas, Coronation Stakes and Child (now Falmouth) Stakes.

Sheikh Hamdan also owned Princes Gate (1982 Westbury Stakes), Doulab (1984 Gimcrack and Cornwallis Stakes), Al Sylah (1985 Diadem Stakes), Alwasmi (1988 John Porter Stakes), Muhbubh (1988 Princess Margaret Stakes) and Ashal, who became the trainer's last Group 1 winner when landing the Ascot Gold Cup under Richard Hills in 1990.

His big-race winners for other owners included Icena (1976 Lowther Stakes), Pollerton (1978 Princess of Wales's Stakes), Imperial Fling (1979 Bayerisches Zuchtrennen), Ilium (1985 Yorkshire Cup) and Flower Girl (1990 Goldene Peitsche).

Jones also trained Lofty (1983 Diomed Stakes) and Stavordale (1988 Northumberland Plate) for his second wife, Sarah Beatty; his first marriage had ended in the 1970s.

His last two Group winners were Zaahi (1992 Diomed Stakes) and Mamlakah (1994 May Hill Stakes), and he retired in the autumn of 1996 after training for 45 years in Newmarket. The last of about 1,800 victories was with Agdistis in a juvenile hurdle at Worcester.

Tom Jones may have been a toff, but he was also one of the most intelligent and forward-thinking of trainers, and his brain was put to use through his membership of several official bodies as well as the writing of humorous verses.

But his two biggest contributions to the sport were as an early mentor to the Maktoums, and as the best trainer of trainers in the business.

Many pupils and assistants at Woodlands and Green Lodge went on to become successful trainers, notably Stoute, Stewart, Scott, Charlie Milbank, Jeremy Hindley, Gavin Hunter, Adrian Maxwell, Charlie Nelson, John Hills, Lord John Fitzgerald, and his own children, Tim Thomson Jones and Di Haine.

In addition, his apprentices included Greville Starkey, Steve Smith Eccles and Richard Hills. As a teacher, he was unsurpassed.

CAPTION(S):

Tom Jones (top) enjoyed success under both codes with the likes of Tingle Creek and (right) Touching Wood, pictured after winning the St Leger
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Dec 7, 2007
Words:1419
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