The riding skills of Andrew Gibbons were on display when the prominent Novocastrian hoop was responsible for a treble at the Port Macquarie race meeting on Tuesday.
It wasn't all clear sailing as his mount in the Maiden Plate, Our Tito, had to recover from heavy interference down the straight when Munsa Magic raced ungenerously and changed course abruptly towards the fence.
Gibbons didn't panic and was able to regain control of the Kris Lees trained colt to score a narrow victory before surviving a protest fired in by the fourth placegetter, Nightmare.
The middle pin of the three-peat occurred in the fourth event when he steered the Allan Denham trained gelding, Fantasy Eagle along the rails to race clear for a comprehensive victory over Honovi and the early pacemaker, Pure Rubick.
Joy for Us was the only starter on the day for the Wyong stable of Kim Waugh and gained a start in the final event due to scratchings before powering home to land a solid victory and complete a wonderful day of riding for the jockey.
Punters who backed the Lonhro mare into favouritism were concerned when Joy for Us was in a pocket but Gibbons was able to extricate into the clear from Wotsizname before bounding away to score by just over a length.
The successful day takes his riding tally for the season to 93 wins and 136 minors and places him fourth in the NSW premiership behind Greg Ryan, Aaron Bullock and Blaike McDougall.
The day was also a welcome return for local rider, Matthew Bennett, who opened the program when leading all the way aboard the Grant Prosser trained gelding, Balboa, before coming from last and powering down the outside to score on Leave Me Some.
The win of Leave Me Some for Newcastle trainer, Grant Marshall was outstanding as the Time Thief mare missed the start noticeably before making up enormous ground down the crown of the track in the straight to land the prize.
Bennett hasn't ridden since March at Scone after a trackwork fall placed him on the sidelines with injury and the successful double was a sweet tonic for the popular hoop.
John Sprague held the local training banner aloft when Spirit in the Sky was able to stave off the finishing effort of Ceremonial Prince to score by a decisive margin in race five while Nosey continued the great run for apprentice, Liam Blanch, when leading throughout in the following event.
Former Adelaide trainer, Mark Minervini, rarely makes the journey from his latest base at Newcastle to Port without success and this was again the case when Sunreel came with a wet sail to salute in the John Oxley Motors Handicap.
It was a calculated ride by Luke Cumberland as the Dundeel mare came from well back before gaining a split down the home running to race clear in the straight and withstand the finishing run of Stylish Pattern to score an impressive win.
The meeting was conducted under overcast skies with rain over the preceding week resulting in a heavy eight surface which played fairly evenly with some advantage to horses racing close to the fence
The club would like to acknowledge the continued support provided by the race day sponsorship of Tabcorp, Settlers Inn, Prime7, Schweppes, De Bortoli Wines, John Oxley Motors and Great Northern Brewing and thank them for assisting in the staging of the program.
Racing continues at Port on Sunday 14th June when the Wauchope Jockey Club host an eight-event program highlighted by the $29,000 Wauchope Cup and Wauchope Sprint, with the cup winner exempt from the ballot for the South Grafton Cup in July.
Race 1 - TAB.COM.AU MAIDEN PLATE (1500 M)
A resolute betting move resulted in Nijinska being backed into favouritism in a wide market over Balboa with confidence around Phylave and Apropros causing Sassy Em to drift.
Man And Superman began well before being headed by the Grant Prosser trained gelding, Balboa with Rejected content to sit on the outside after being trapped wide early.
Mikayla Weir enjoyed the run of the race on Apropros when positioning the daughter of Americain third on the outside of Man And Superman while Phylave, Sassy Em and Nijinska were the trio at the tail of the field.
Despite being challenged by Rejected and Apropros approaching the home bend, Matt Bennett was able to hold Balboa together in the lead with Sassy Em and Man And Superman angling for runs closer to the rail.
Balboa lifted down the home straight and the son of Duporth was able to withstand the finishing burst of Man And Superman and Krayzelburg to score by a narrow margin with Sassy Em, Apropros and Nijinska not far away.
Race 2 - TAB - LONG MAY WE PLAY MAIDEN PLATE (1500 M)
Despite drifting to $2.60 in wagering operations, Our Tito was the ruling favourite for the event from Dawn Thunder with strong support for the Marc Quinn trained gelding, Nightmare.
Dawn Thunder began like a rocket and Ray Spokes allowed the Peter Evans trained mare to stride clear from Volcanic with Nightmare positioned perfectly on the inside of Our Tito while Little Funny Bunny was trapped wide in the early section of the race.
This formation remained constant until the home turn when Dawn Thunder straightened in front before being challenged by Volcanic with Nightmare asked for his effort on the inside and Andrew Gibbons weaving a passage between runners aboard the Kris Lees trained colt, Our Tito.
Munsa Magic commenced a sweeping run down the outside before providing a handful for Kirk Matheson when the gelding shifted abruptly back towards the rails and severely checked Dawn Thunder.
This set off a chain reaction with Nightmare and Our Tito being put off stride before Andrew Gibbons was able to balance and claim the front aboard the Uncle Mo colt, Our Tito, to claim the front in the shadows of the post.
Matheson was able to regain control of Munsa Magic to land second prize from the finishing bust of Globite's Jayar, who came from the second half of the field while there were excuses for Nightmare in the concluding stages.
Stewards considered a double protest lodged by Luke Rolls on Nightmare against both Munsa Magic and Our Tito before dismissing both objections.
Race 3 - SETTLERS INN F&M MAIDEN HCP (1200 M)
Punters found it difficult in assessing the market with Lucky One labelled the popular elect from Silk Trail with a spirited move for Crazeelil forcing Leave Me Some and Our Girl Wanda towards a double figure quote.
Sunday Special took the early lead from Crazeelil with Grant Buckley planted wide aboard the Nathan Doyle trained filly, Lucky One while Amelika and Sneaky Gal camped off the speed.
Silk Trail travelled in the middle of the pack on the inside of Our Girl Wanda while Leave Me Some was back at the tail of the field after being tardily away.
Sunday Special swung the home bend with a good lead from Crazeelil with Lucky One continuing to make ground on the outside, despite having no luck in transit, while Leave Me Some, Silk Trail and Night Terror commenced their runs.
After missing the start noticeably, Leave Me Some came down the outside with a powerful burst to clear away and score by just over two lengths and present Matt Bennett with an early double.
There was a great contest for the minors resulting in Crazeelil holding on for second in front of Silk Trail and Night Terror while Our Girl Wanda failed to fire over the latter stages of the race.
Race 4 - PRIME7 LOCAL NEWS CG&E MAIDEN HCP (1200 M)
Pure Rubick was the solid favourite over Fantasy Eagle with some confidence around Fire in the Hole while Roman Candle, Alpine Racer and Surmise were on the next line of betting transactions.
Ben Looker allowed the Kristen Buchanan trained gelding, Pure Rubick, to race to the early lead from Alpine Racer and Surmise with Fire in the Hole planted four wide around Another Option.
Andrew Gibbons was able to position Fantasy Eagle perfectly in the centre of the pack in front of Yes Kurt with Roman Candle taking up a rearward position.
Pure Rubick maintained the lead as the field headed for home before Gibbons commenced a move aboard the Allan Denham trained gelding, Fantasy Eagle, with the son of Zacinto able to withstand the strong finishing burst of Honovi to land the prize by just under two lengths.
Pure Rubick was wayward in the straight but was able to cling on for the minor placing from Roman Candle with Alpine Racer, Surmise and Fire in the Hole failing to fire over the concluding stages.
Race 5 - SCHWEPPES CLASS 1 HCP (1000 M)
Divisidero was the favoured elect with Manly Hanover and Spirit in the Sky attracting their fair share of support while Nombuso and Ceremonial Prince were both given chances by punters.
Grant Buckley utilised the early speed of Spirit in the Sky to dash the John Sprague trained gelding to a clear lead from My Best Seller with Ceremonial Prince well positioned early in front of Divisidero while Kirk Matheson was trapped wide on Manly Hanover.
Danger Woman and Flash Palace were back in the second half of the field with the Neil Godbolt trained gelding, Nombuso, while Chief Havoc whipped the field in.
Spirit in the Sky led clearly in the home straight and the son of Spirit of Boom was able to repel the solid finishing effort of Ceremonial Prince to score a decisive victory with Danger Woman sneaking along the fence to grab third in front of Flash Palace.
Divisidero was prominent approaching the home turn before wilting badly to finish last while Manly Hanover raced ungenerously down the home running.
Race 6 - DE BORTOLI WINES BENCHMARK 66 HCP (1100 M)
Crackneck attracted strong confidence resulting in the Ad Valorem gelding starting equal favourite with Revenire while New Major was on the third line of betting in front of Upper East Side and Nosey.
Crackneck began well before Liam Blanch allowed Nosey to stride up along the paint and race clear with First Time Lucky trapped wide early around Upper East Side with Grant Buckley positioning Revenire near the tail of the field.
Nosey swung the bend in the lead with Crackneck threatening danger on the outside while Buckley commenced a move from the tail aboard the Garry Neale trained gelding, Revenire.
Liam Blanch continues to impress as he bounded Nosey clear for Les Tilley over the concluding stages to withstand the finishing burst of Revenire and score by around three lengths with Crackneck running an honest race to land the minor placing.
The run of Revenire was strong after coming from well back and weaving towards the outside down the home running while Upper East Side and New Major failed to handle the conditions to finish near the rear of proceedings.
Race 7 - JOHN OXLEY MOTORS BENCHMARK 66 HCP (1500 M)
Misterzee was well supported and finished the popular elect in a wide market over My Desire with Viking Raid and Sunreel the only other runners under a double price quote.
Maid Marilyn began like a rocket and landed the front position early before being headed by Viking Raid with O'Driscoll perfectly positioned behind the leaders on the outside of Stylish Pattern.
Andrew Gibbons positioned Misterzee in the centre of the pack while Sunreel only had Hermosa Reward, Sarasota Bay and Chosen Prince behind her.
Viking Raid and Cejay Graham dictated terms in front approaching the home turn before being challenged by Maid Marilyn with Belinda Hodder asking Stylish Pattern for the supreme effort down the centre of the track while Luke Cumberland was weaving a passage aboard Sunreel from near the rear of the field.
After having a bumping duel with Stylish Pattern in a desire to find clear galloping room, Sunreel dashed to the front with the Mark Minervini trained mare able to withstand the finishing burst of Stylish Pattern to score by a decisive margin with Chosen Prince claiming third in front of Misterzee.
Viking Raid yielded ground over the concluding stages to finish in sixth position in front of O'Driscoll, who seemed to have his chance, while My Desire was disappointing in the run home.
Race 8 - GREAT NORTHERN BREWING COMPANY CLASS 2 HCP (1200 M)
It was significant that Kim Waugh's only runner on the program was scratched from the previous race to take advantage of the depleted line up in the last with keen punters taking the lead and backing the Lonhro mare into a clear favourite over Brother Magic with Serbelloni a firm elect in front of Thunderous Strike.
Serbelloni began beautifully before Ray Spokes slid up along the inside and race to a clear lead on Brother Magic with Wotsizname third on the inside of Jest Magic.
Tinai was camped in the centre of the pack on the inside with Thunderous Strike while Andrew Gibbons was making some ground aboard Joy for Us after being tardily away.
Brother Magic was setting a genuine speed in front with Serbelloni tracking the Brett Bellamy trained gelding all the way as the field really started to string out down the side of the course. Wotsizname was third in front of Tinai with Gibbons continuing to make ground aboard Joy for Us as Thunderous Strike commenced a forward move.
Brother Magic was being challenged by Serbelloni with Joy for Us having a bumping duel with Wotsizname before manoeuvring the daughter of Super Smudge to the front and racing away for victory.
Tinai made up valuable ground over the concluding stages to claim second while the same could also be said for Thunderous Strike, who came right down the outside for the minor placing.
Horses to Follow
Nightmare, Honovi, Ceremonial Prince,