By Rod Fuller
A training treble to Kris Lees together with doubles to local mentor, Neil Godbolt, and jockey Andrew Gibbons highlighted an exciting eight event program conducted at Port Macquarie on Friday under overcast skies and a soft 5 surface.
Despite the sting being out of the ground, the meeting presented a track record, four class records, close and competitive racing with plenty of horses to follow for the future.
Race 1 - JOHN OXLEY MOTORS 3YO MAIDEN PLATE Jockey Paul King used the wide barrier to advantage on the well supported Justus by taking the horse straight to the lead soon after the start and running his competitors off their legs for a comprehensive victory. The Paul Perry trained Al Maher gelding had first look at the track was able to dictate terms in front with a win by just over four lengths, breaking both the class and track record in the process. Westover was near the lead throughout and battled on well for second with the Zoffany filly, Artistic Escape, doing her best work late and will derive a great deal of benefit from the debut performance.
RACE 2 - DE BORTOLI WINES CG&E MAIDEN HANDICAP The ultimate winner, Kool Vinnie, camped behind the early pacemakers First Family and Chunky Charger for a last stride victory. The half head win by the lightly raced I Am Invincible gelding was well deserved after placings at Gosford and the Beaumont track with the win providing the first leg of the Kris Lees treble on the program. In a blanket finish, which provided a class record, the performance of Tigers Image was full of merit after being posted wide and racing up on the speed.
RACE 3 - SCHWEPPES F&M MAIDEN HANDICAP The favourite, Unique Miss, raced mid field until the 600 metre mark when apprentice jockey, Jesse Graham made his move to challenge the leaders at the point of the turn. A real battle took place down the straight when Unique Miss joined and momentarily headed the leader, Surely Not, and the two cleared away for a great finish. The strength of evergreen jockey, Robert Thompson, lifted Surely Not over the line for a short half head victory in class record time and gave Kris Lees the second leg of a training treble. The run of Unique Miss was full of merit and the Chastity Strikes rallied well for third.
RACE 4 -GRAHAME TIMBRELL BENCHMARK 65 HANDICAP French Command, at start number 103, led until the home turn before the cavalry arrived in the shape of Sprite Zah and the ultimate winner, Not Doubtful. The Terry Evans trained Niello gelding was responsible for an impressive performance after being back worst than mid field early in proceedings. A good ride by Wanderson D’Avilla saw Not Doubtful being able to tag Sprite Zah along for the majority of the race and after hooking around the gelding on the home turn, finished fast out wide for a half length win.
RACE 5 - BARRIER SIGNS CLASS 3 HANDICAP The heavily backed favourite, Portatorio, began well and settled 7th until the 600 metre mark behind the leaders, Drummed Out and Hamoon Dream. Jockey Andrew Gibbons on Hamoon Dream was content to sit up on the outside of Drummed Out until the home straight was reached before gaining the upper hand over Drummed Out and racing away for a ¾ length win and providing Newcastle trainer Kris Lees with the completion of his winning treble. Portatorio’s rider Matthew McGuren was a victim of circumstance as he was attempting to obtain a run on the outside of Drummed Out, who was rolling out under pressure and then had to check and go back towards the rail. By this time Hamoon Dream was away with the prize and presented Andrew Gibbons with a riding double.
RACE 6 - PRIME 7 CLASS 1 HANDICAP An outstanding ride by Ben Looker enabled the tickets gelding, Morning Fare to salute in the event by a narrow margin over Dizzy Success and Swingahinch. The consistent Grant Allard youngster, Swingahinch, gained the ascendancy over the early pacemaker Bend It Like Benny with the heavily backed Morning Fare and Dizzy Success finishing fast out wide. The experience of Looker was able to guide the Neil Godbolt galloper Morning Fare to the lead in the shadows of the post for a half head win over Dizzy Success, who provided a solid performance after being back worst than mid field and making a move out wide on the track.
RACE 7 - TRACKSIDE PHOTOGRAPHY BENCHMARK 57 The Ricky Rhode trained mare, Solicitation, provided the blow out result for punters after scoring by a long head at the odds of $21. The Time Thief galloper was running second the entire trip camped behind the equal favourite, Jemily, and the pair were able to set fast sectionals in leading by some four lengths in the middle part of the event. The run of the race was by the Jenny Graham trained gelding, Art Attack, who continued to make ground in the run down the side after settling back early in proceedings. After covering ground and giving the leaders a tidy start, Art Attack flashed down the outside to be narrowly defeated by Solicitation with Jemily a creditable third.
RACE 8 - CARLTON MID CLASS 2 HANDICAP Oakfield Time, resuming from a spell of almost five months, was sent out favourite on the strength of solid performances against good company at Rosehill when last in work. Support was also strong for Dreamalina and the two were up on the speed the entire journey behind the Brett Bellamy trained gelding, Kawana King. Oakfield Time moved up on the outside of Kawana King in the straight but was no match for the Dream Ahead filly, Dreamalina, who finished too strongly on the inside for a narrow yet decisive victory. The run of The Terry Evans trained, Oakfield Time was full of merit and she will derive a great deal of benefit by the outing. The win of Dreamalina gave popular local trainer, Neil Godbolt a winning double by the narrowest of margins and the horse’s third win from 15 starts.
Summary: The treble by Newcastle trainer Kris Lees cements his position at the head of the NSW Country Trainer’s Premiership with 53 wins for a state total of 105. Neil Godbolt’s double moves him to 24 wins for the season and the riding double by jockey, Andrew Gibbons takes him to 37 country wins for a state total of 46.
Horse to Follow: Art Attack.