With his parents, partner and 16-year-old son watching from the grandstand, Newcastle jockey Andrew Gibbons produced a career-best performance of four winners on home track on Saturday.
One of Kris Lees’ stable jockeys, Gibbons rode two winners for the boss and one each for Gosford trainer Kylie Gavenlock and Richard Freedman in his four rides at the eight-race meeting.
Lees-trained two-year-old Smart Melody was the talk of the track after a breathtaking debut in the 900-metre 2YO maiden plate.
Gibbons settled the Gooree Stud-owned filly behind the leaders until the home turn, where he eased her into the clear. She produced a devastating sprint to win by more than five lengths in a class record 52.00 seconds on the Heavy 8 surface, beating the previous mark of 52.48.
Gibbons had his first ride for Rosehill trainer Freedman when former English stayer Nahuel won by more than four lengths in the 1850m maiden handicap. Another winner with a bright future was Gavenlock’s The Big Vin, which narrowly claimed the 1200m maiden handicap.
After holding up the start with his reluctance to enter the barriers, The Big Vin atoned for his unlucky defeat at Gosford last start to beat Oakfield Missile in a photo finish.
Three-year-old La Pont, raced by Lees’ mother, Vicki, gave Gibbons his fourth victory, winning the 1400m benchmark 64 handicap. The gelding had a titanic battle with Oakfield Captain before scoring by a nose. Gibbons was elated following the final event as he posed with his son and parents for a photo after unsaddling La Pont.
“A great thrill,” Gibbons said.
“About 10 years ago I rode three winners at Muswellbrook and I was first past the post in another but it was declared a no-race.
“My son Dylan is rapt because he has ambitions to be a jockey and he was the strapper of my last winner, La Pont.
“Smart Melody is very talented. She has a lot to learn. The filly has a big stride and I had to restrain her behind the leaders. She was going half pace. She will be comfortable on wet or dry tracks.
“Nahuel gave me a great feel from the time we left the barriers. He is a lovely horse and will run 2400 metres. He was ultra impressive and should develop into a good stayer as that was only his second Australian start.
“The Big Vin is a big boy but he is very promising. He didn’t want to go in the barrier and I rode him upside down because of the heavy track. On a dry track and ridden back, you will see a different horse.
“La Pont fought hard and he will gain confidence from that win.”
Gibbons has ridden 56.5 winners for the season. Lees’ double gave him a six-win lead in the Newcastle trainers’ premiership with four meetings remaining. He has 26 and the next best is Snowden Racing, who are three ahead of Chris Waller.
Mitchell Bell leads the jockeys’ premiership on 17.5, ahead of Jeff Penza (17) and Aaron Bullock (15).