Jim Velich Memorial Race Day


Newcastle jockey Andrew Gibbons has been on a roll from day one of the 2018-19 racing season and he is confident of edging closer to his best ever season on Saturday. Gibbons only has four mounts at the Newcastle Jockey Club’s Australia Day meeting and all four will be well fancied. With the current season not yet half completed, the Thornton lad has steered home 75 winners to be currently sitting sixth on the Australian jockey’s Premiership. His career best is 79 winners and a century hopefully beckons before July 31.

Gibbons discussed the prospects of his mounts on Friday. “First Reading has had seven placings from nine starts and this is the right race for her. She races on the pace and has been beaten less than a length in her past three starts. I have ridden First Reading in the past. Shrug was three lengths from the winner on debut at Gosford two weeks back. Snowden’s horses normally improve greatly from their first run to their second. Mandatum is a nice horse, but he is a work in progress. His only run was better than it looked, and he will be much fitter on Saturday. Mill City is a New Zealand filly having her first start for Kris Lees. She’s only had two starts for a win and a close fourth. I haven’t ridden her in the two trials, but I have been on her back and the filly works well. Only the four rides, but I expect them all to be very competitive.” Gibbons said.

In form Newcastle five-year-old Fratellino has bright prospects of claiming back to back victories in the 1350 metre Newcastle Nobbys Benchmark 70 Handicap. The David Atkins trained front-runner is in rare form with an all the way win at Newcastle on November 18 and another tough win at Wyong last start on January 5. Fratellino is difficult to run down when allowed to dictate terms up front and apprentice Louise Day’s three-kilogram allowance is a huge positive. The Irish Hoop rode him last start at Wyong. Fratellino has been at double figures in his two recent wins but don’t expect bookmakers to be so generous on Saturday.

Sydney’s premier trainer Chris Waller is sending a well credentialled filly to Newcastle. Sizzling Ace steps out in a 1300 metre Maiden Plate after a six week freshen-up. In May she was third in the Group 2 Doomben Sires Produce, three-quarters of a length behind Lean Mean Machine and Zousain. Sizzling Ace has raced well when close up on heavy tracks in her past two starts and the firmer going on Saturday will be ideal.

Mark Newnham is set to continue his good strike rate in Newcastle when his Written Tycoon three-year-old, Exclusive resumes from a spell in the 1150 metre Benchmark 64 Handicap. The colt on debut was only three lengths behind The Autumn Sun at Randwick on Anzac Day. He was impressive in a Kembla win before a spell and he won a recent Rosehill trial.

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