Newcastle jockey Andrew Gibbons’ dream start to the current racing season continued on his home track on Saturday when he rode three winners and two placings. Gibbons for the first time in his career lead the New South Wales Jockeys Premiership with 47 winners, three more than James McDonald, joined McDonald in the Australian Premiership and they sit second behind the West Australian wizard William Pike.
Two of Gibbons winners were for Kris Lees and the other was trained by Kim Waugh. Gibbons and Lees combined to win the opening event a Class 2 Handicap with the New Zealand bred filly Kedah. The winner races in the colours made famous by Lucia Valentina and a number of Lees former rugby league team mates share in the ownership. A raging $1.35 favourite Kedah was driven to the lead by Gibbo soon after the start and she bolted in. Kedah had won her only previous start at Muswellbrook in July and the three-year-old is promising.
In race 2 printers put their faith in Waugh and Gibbons with the $2.70 favourite Celer. Normally, the three-year-old would settle back in his races, but he began well and rather than be caught wide, Gibbons took him to the front. There were anxious moments in the straight when runner up Subtle Grey put his head in front, but the favourite fought to win by a nose.
The second of Lees double was the very promising New Zealand bred colt Lucky Mission. Backed from $3.30 into $2.40, the three-year-old relished the opportunity to race on his spacious home track after two placings on the tighter Gosford track.
It was a peach of a ride by Gibbons who settled the winner behind the two leaders and Lucky Mission exploded in the straight. He is still green but has untapped potential.
Gibbons is on cloud nine. “The winners just keep coming and I am getting great support from Kris Lees and others. My ambition is to ride one hundred winners for the season, for the first time. Kedah is very smart, but I was a bit concerned that the 900 was too short. However, she outpaced them, and the time was quick. This filly will be even better over 1100 or 1200 with a sit. Celer got a bit lost in from but toughed it out. He is a better horse ridden from behind and is midweek metropolitan class. Lucky Mission has a big motor and is bred to get much further. He is a bit of a lad and really, I didn’t put a lot of pressure on him. I am off to the soccer now to cheer home the Jets.” Gibbons said.
Seven-year-old Wauchope gelding Allzin won his first race in seventy two weeks when successful in the 1600 metre Benchmark 70 Handicap. Ridden by Belinda Hodder, Allzin is one of only two horses in trainer Graham Hoys stable. The tough stayer took his prizemoney to within $1000 of $200,000. Hoys was bullish following the race. “I am confident he would run well, but my concern was the 1600 metres. He finished second in the Taree Cup in August and all his wins have been on firm tracks and he got one today.”