Locally trained, Kendall-owned gelding Subtle Grey scored a magnificent win in the Wingham Cup after the shock withdrawal of top jockey Corey Brown's mount Cash Spinner at the barriers at Taree on Friday.
It was trainer Wayne Wilkes, owner Les Tinkler and Irish apprentice jockey 24-year-old Louise Day's first triumph in the cup.
Former local apprentice and dual Melbourne Cup winning jockey Brown was again denied a win in his hometown cup when the seven-year-old mare was deemed by a vet to be sore in a leg when at the back of the starting barriers.
Brown advised officials something didn't feel right with the mare on the way to the start.
Day gave her five-year-old grey gelding the run of the race just behind the leaders and scored by 1.4 lengths from Warwick Farm gelding Sacred Edge.
"Subtle Grey has been up a long time this preparation but he had won two races here and the distance suited," Wilkes said.
"Louise has won mostly on him and knows him inside and out."
Wilkes said the gelding was only lightly raced for its four wins from 16 starts despite the owner not being trackside, but dealing in gallopers on the Gold Coast.
Day said she had a lovely run and "nothing pestered us."
"Wayne has done a fantastic job and the horse loves this track."
Wingham Services Club president Harry Rider and race club chairman Greg Coleman congratulated connections, Coleman adding that Day was the first Irish rider to win the cup.
Wilkes complained he hadn't had a winner in May but finished this meeting with a winning double when three-year-old gelding Dulette scored by just under a length in the Wingham Class 1 Handicap in its third run for him.
A group of friends and first-time owners, headed by Tony Maguire, paid $13,000 for Dulette bought in Victoria.
The gelding was a handy pick-up ride for Port Macquarie jockey Ben Looker after Sydney hoop Glyn Schofield's no show.
It gave Looker three wins on the card.
The other two were Whaler Bill for Wyong trainer Ben Hill in the Maiden Handicap over 1400m and Matakauri which made it two wins in a row at Taree in the Corey Brown Cup Benchmark 66 Handicap over 1300m.
Brown was unplaced on Maui Princess in the cup named after him but he didn't go home empty-handed and celebrated his upcoming 43rd birthday on Saturday with a winning treble.
He kicked off his streak in the Taree Gold Cup Carnival with a 2.5 lengths romp on first starter Big Parade.
His next win was by 3.3 lengths on three-year-old filly Zaniah in the Maiden Plate over 1000m.
Stable foreman Mal Ollerton said the filly "had a few issues" in three starts in New Zealand and was having its first run for Lees.
"She is a nice, big girl and will make a wonderful broodmare in the future," he said.
Brown had just under a length up his sleeve in scoring on $10,000 buy, four-year-old mare Classy Anna for the McGrath family.
It's trained at Wyong by Allan Denham in the Benchmark 66 Handicap over 1000m.
Scone trainer Rodney Northam and his regular rider Robert Thompson combined for a just under a length win with three-year-old filly True Finesse in the Class 1 and Maiden Plate over 1600m.
Northam's local family was trackside to cheer him on with the galloper he has on lease from the owner who later will breed from her.
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