With his parents, partner and 16-year-old son Dylan watching from the grandstand, Newcastle jockey Andrew Gibbons produced his best ever performance on Saturday steering home four winners on the eight-race program at Newcastle.
One of Kris Lees stable jockeys, Gibbons rode two winners for the ‘boss’, one for Gosford trainer Kylie Gavenlock and another for Richard Freeman. Lees two-year-old filly Smart Melody was the talk of the track after a breathtaking debut in the 900 metre 2YO Maiden Plate. Gibbons settled the filly behind the leaders until the home turn where he eased her into the clear. Smart Melody produced a devastating sprint to race away and win by more than five lengths.
Rosehill trainer Richard Freeman required an experienced rider to pilot his promising European stayer Nahuel in the 1850 metre Maiden Handicap. Gibbons had never ridden for Freedman but he accepted the mount with happy results. The former English stayer toyed with his rivals to win the race by more than four lengths.
Another winner on Saturday with a bright future is Kylie Gavenlocks’ The Big Vin, narrow winner of the 1200 metre Maiden handicap. After holding up the start with his reluctance to enter the barriers, The Big Vin with Gibbons aboard atoned for his unlucky defeat at Gosford last start.
Gibbons fourth winner was in the final event the 1400 metre Benchmark 64 Handicap. Three-year-old La Pont, raced by Vicki Lees, mother of the geldings’ trainer had a titanic battle with runner up Oakfield Captain before scoring by a nose. Gibbons was elated following the final event as he posed with his son Dylan and parents after unsaddling the winner. “A great thrill. About ten years ago I rode three winners at Muswellbrook and I was first past the post in another but it was declared a ‘no race’. My son Dylan is rapt as he has ambitions to be a jockey and he was the strapper of my last winner La Pont. Smart Melody is very talented. She has a lot to learn. The filly has a big stride and I had to restrain her behind the leaders. She was going half pace. She will be comfortable on wet or dry tracks. Nahuel gave me a great feel from the time we left the barrier. He is a lovely horse and will run 2400 metres. He was ultra-impressive and should develop into a good stayer as that was only his second Australian start. The Big Vin is a ‘big boy’ but he is very promising. He didn’t want to go in the barrier and I rode him upside down because of the heavy track. On a dry track and ridden back you will see a different horse. La Pont fought hard to win and he will gain confidence from that win.” Gibbons said.
The popular jockey has ridden 56 ½ winners for the season. The double for Lees gave him a good lead in the Australian Bloodstock Newcastle Trainers Premiership. There are four meetings remaining in the 2017/18 season and Lees has trained 26 winners on the two Newcastle tracks. Snowden Racing has 20 winners and Chris Waller 17. In the TJS Services Jockeys Premiership Mitchell Bell leads on 17 ½ wins from Jeff Penza (17) and Aaron Bullock (15).