Leading Newcastle trainer Kris Lees maintained his second position in the state training premiership with a treble to highlight an interesting day of racing at Port Macquarie on Monday.
Victories by Controlthewitness, Airlie Avenue and Dundee Lee moved Lees to 170 season wins in his quest to decrease the leading margin currently being enjoyed by Chris Waller, who is poised to break the phenomenal 200 mark.
Controlthewitness was facing the starter for the first time after two steady trials and the Star Witness gelding greatly impressed in victory while Airlie Avenue stormed down the outside to provide Samantha Clenton with the first of a riding double.
The successful comeback for Clenton continued when Dundee Lee kicked away over the concluding stages to score a comprehensive victory in the Benchmark 66 Handicap.
Nobody's Perfect was the firm favourite in the Maiden Plate with punters cheering loudly as the Ferlax gelding burst through the centre to clear away from Little Funny Bunny and Free Verse with the win providing further success for the Graham Payne and Matt McGuren combination.
It is very rare for Kristen Buchanan to head up the coast without success and this pattern continued when Dual Escape was able to lead throughout to land the prize over All About Charlie and Typhoon Bonny.
The biggest plunge on the program was credited to Bangalley Lad, who was sensationally backed into odds on favourite in the Class 2 Handicap, but was no match for the finishing burst of the flashy chestnut from the Grant Marshall trained galloper, Achi Baba.
The largest winning margin on the day was claimed by Jeff Kehoe on Gold Rhapsody when the Strategic Maneuver filly tracked wide, but cleared out to score by three lengths with victory continuing the great run being enjoyed by popular local mentor, Margaret de Gonneville.
Racing was conducted under relatively fine skies before an enthusiastic crowd with the track rated a soft six following intermittent rainfall over the previous week.
Unfortunately, most jockeys were of the belief the track was providing a more secure surface from the centre of the track to the outside from the home turn and elected to make their runs down the crown of the circuit in almost every event.
The Port Macquarie Race Club committee is looking forward to hosting the Wauchope Jockey Club's feature cup program on Sunday 16th June with the day promising to be one of the best ever.
The Wauchope Cup features prizemoney of $32,000 and the winner is exempt from ballot for the South Grafton Cup while the horse that claims success in the $22,000 Wauchope Sprint will qualify for the John Carlton Handicap and the Kirby Sprint as part of the Grafton July carnival.
This meeting will be followed by a seven-event program scheduled for Tuesday 25th June featuring full Sky Racing and nationwide TAB coverage.
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