By Tony Megahey
Vastly experienced local Andrew Gibbons and rookie Irish apprentice Louise Day are the jockeys to follow as they keep the home fires burning for the red-hot Kris Lees stable at Monday’s Cessnock TAB meeting.
Gibbons, with 54 wins this season, is a vital component in Lees’s regional operation as the 13-time Group 1 winner has the higher priority of Clearly Innocent’s upcoming Stradbroke bid, after Sense of Occasion’s Doomben Cup win.
Lees, in a record breaking near $8million prizemoney season, has five runners at Cessnock with stable rider Gibbons on three, and four kilo claimer Day, continuing her education on the remaining two. Louise, striving for an important day in her career and also a visa extension, has ridden the stable runners in work and races.
“I’ve ridden four winners, one more reduces my claim to three kilos so hopefully it is at this meeting, but it’s really exciting times for the stable,” Louise enthused.
Avalanche Warning in the first, and Overgrown in the last, are her rides for the day: “Avalanche Warning needed the run last start, it’ll be fitter but the wide barrier is the issue, so we’ll need some things to go our way.
“Overgrown is an emergency, not guaranteed a run yet; she won well last start at Cessnock over 1100m so hopefully if she’s in, back to 900m isn’t too sharp. I’ve ridden Gingersnap in work, she’s a lovely honest filly in form and drawn to run a race again.”
Meanwhile, Gibbons, the 2015 Newcastle premiership winner, has other rides for Angela Davies and David Atkins, giving him a typically strong book on the seven-race program.
Gingersnap is Gibbon’s best opportunity, coming off Scone and Kempsey wins and a Port Macquarie placing. Gingersnap is favourably drawn in barrier four in the Class 2 Bill Brown Memorial (1150m).
Gibbons is long established with Lees after riding for other luminaries, Kris’s late, great father Max and Bryan Guy.
Kris is prolific on regional tracks in proximity to his Newcastle base as he gives lesser lights of his big stable numbers race experience.