WINNING doubles to Port Macquarie trainer John Sprague and jockey Peter Graham highlighted a five-race Manning Valley Race Club meeting before a well-attended crowd celebrating Melbourne Cup day on Tuesday.
Sprague had a neck win with five-year-old gelding Shoreditch ($2.10), ridden a masterly race by 52-year-old Graham, in the feature TAB Venue Mode Benchmark 58 Handicap over 1600m and with four-year-old mare Nicconi Lass ($3), a late pick-up ride for Codie McPherson, in the Debortoli Wines Class 1 Handicap over 1300m.
Graham's other winner was seven-year-old Cessnock gelding Time Stalker ($5.50), trained by Dean Jackson, which he also rode for a win as part of four on a five-race card at Wauchope on October 19.
Port owners Peter and Lesley White were delighted to see Shoreditch score after a string of unlucky runs in TAB company.
The Pierro gelding formerly from the stable of David Hayes in Melbourne has registered all its four wins in 21 starts since being bought by the Whites.
"Shoreditch has nearly paid his way after Pete gave him a good run behind the leader.
"He took over on the turn when three wide and then thought he had had enough," Mr White said.
Sprague and Graham believe the gelding is now showing staying ability and will try him over 2000m at a Port Macquarie meeting.
Mr White said it was good to have the services of Graham who last won for him on Jemily about 12 months ago.
Former Kempsey resident David Parker was over the moon when Nicconi Lass, bred from his multiple winner Hot 'n' Breezy, made it two wins from a dozen starts.
Port jockey Luke Rolls couldn't make the meeting but McPherson rated Nicconi astutely in the lead and held her opponents to just over a length at the winning post.
"At one stage I thought my horse would never get past 1000m," Parker said.
McPherson said: "I held her up and then let her go", beating the resuming Esplanade ($13), trained on the track by Ross Stitt and ridden by four kilo claiming Port apprentice Jacob Golden.
Time Stalker's win by just over four lengths showed the less than a length win at Wauchope was no fluke.
It settled last early, got a run to fifth along the rail, then scouted five wide to romp home.
"She has been unlucky at a couple of TAB meetings since Wauchope."
Prior to the Wauchope win he remarked "you can't do better than get Peter Graham", a sentiment which has provided two wins from two rides for the senior jockey.
Former Wagga Wagga apprentice Stacey Metcalfe neared 80 career wins with a confident ride to score by two lengths on four-year-old mare All Charges ($5), trained at Wyong by Allan Denham, in the Saxby's Soft Drinks Maiden Plate over 1300m.
"She rides well," stable foreman Andrew Foody said.
"She (mare) went better than I expected...I have had a few wins here," Metcalfe said.
Newcastle trainer Nathan Doyle and jockey Shane S Arnold combined for a nearly three lengths win with Expiredtime, having its 25th start, from two gallopers from the Kris Lees stable at Newcastle, in the XXXX Gold Maiden Plate over 1600m.
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