NEWCASTLE jockey Andrew Gibbons rode to glory on Sunday atop Parraay to claim the Wauchope RSL Club Wauchope Cup.
He pipped Sofin, who was jockeyed by Matthew McGuren, to claim victory in front of a healthy crowd who turned out to support the meeting despite the wet weather. Clunes Rocket placed third.
It was the first meet at Port Macquarie since the track underwent a facelift. Gibbons sang the praises of not only his mare, but of the work done to the surface.
“I’ve raced here before and the upgrade has made a massive difference,” he said.
“She’s a very good mare that’s been racing in a lot harder company. Coming back in grade and in weight was the key today on a soft track.
Gibbons suspected the day would be called off due to the rain, but said the great work done to the rejuvenated track helped with drainage.
“There was talk there would be more rain as the day went on but it helps that they’ve done such a great job on the new track,” he said.
“You couldn’t get anywhere near the edge before because the drainage wasn’t up to standard, but now it’s fantastic.”
Parraay breeder and owner Lucas Miller echoed the sentiments of his jockey and was happy to get the win.
“She’s been a long time out of the winning stall. She’s trialled well on heavy and soft tracks but the new track made the difference,” he said.
“Looking at the rain all morning we didn’t think we’d be coming. It’s a great upgrade.
“It’s done really well to drain. It looks like it will be a really good track in the long term.”
Kempsey’s Hilary Dew joined many other trainers at the meeting and it’s unanimous – the new track is a hit.
“The track has held up beautifully considering the amount of rain and the fact it’s a new surface,” he said.
“I was worried that the rain would mean it was called off but it’s a credit to the workers and how well they’ve done on the track.”
Race steward Drew Smith had nothing but good things to say of proceedings, despite the dreadful weather.
“In the past it probably would have been called off. We couldn’t be happier with how things have gone,” he said.