By Grahame Timbrell
Six weeks of pain and frustration comes to an end on Tuesday for jockey Andrew Gibbons with four rides at Muswellbrook’s Melbourne Cup meeting.
Gibbons resumes after breaking two toes when a horse he was riding at Cessnock in late September shied and hit the running rail.
He has rides for Tracey Bartley, Kylie Gavenlock, Matthew Smith and Jason Deamer and rates all four as good chances.
Gibbons rides Shepley for Bartley in the Book For Muswellbrook Cup Day Maiden; Nikkas ‘N’ A Twist for Gavenlock (Mayors cup), Reigning Meteor for Smith (Muswellbrook Coal Company Bowman Sprint) and Serious Dancer for Deamer in the Hollydene Estate Wines Class One.
NIkkas ‘N’ A Twist is one horse he can’t wait to get back aboard.
“I was supposed to ride him at his last two starts but because I was sidelined Grant Buckley got the rides and ran third on him at Newcastle then won on him at Scone.
“It was so frustrating having to sit at home and watch that happen.
“I tried not to watch too much racing but I was stuck at home because I could not drive.”
Gibbons was given the go ahead to return to riding last Thursday and was one of the first at track work at Newcastle on Friday morning and again on Saturday morning.
“I feel fine, the foot is not 100 percent yet but I have had no pain with it riding work and that is why I know I am ready to return to race riding,” Gibbons said.
Gibbons knows that Shepley is having his 11th start but says his three successive fourths in provincial company sets him up well for a country maiden.
“I don’t know a lot about Reigning Meteor but all his wins have been over sprint distances and Matthew does not send horses to meeting like this if he does not think they have a good chance.
“Serious Dancer is another horse I am looking forward to riding.
“His win at Muswellbrook two starts back was pretty impressive and I am keen to talk to Jason and find out what went wrong at her last start when she ran sixth.”
Todd Howlett has booked Mid North Coast based apprentice Chloe Baker for top weight Dalmatia Prince in the Mayor Cup (1750m).
Dalmatia Prince comes into the race after a second at Canterbury two starts back and a third in an 1800 metre Highway at Randwick.
“They were both good runs a I give him a good chance on Tuesday with the claim,” Howlett said.
“I am not too sure where I go with him after this because there aren’t many races around for him.
“Most of the highway handicaps coming up are over shorter distances.”
Orange trainer Alison Smith is making the long trek to Muswellbrook with Absolute Ripper for the Bowman Sprint but it looks the trip will be worthwhile.
Absolute Ripper has been in great form and was second up from a spell when she ran a record in winning over 1000 metres at Orange on October 16.
Anthony Cavallo rode her to that win and has the ride again here.
1-1.21, PEEL VALLEY MACHINERY MAIDEN, 1000m: LILAC WINE 1, Thornbro 2, Grand Peril 3, Allaru 4.
2-1.56, SARDOS COFFEE CLASS THREE, 1000m: WAR HERO 1, Mac’s Reward 2, Miss Faith 3, General Harmony 4.
3-2.45, MUSWELLBROOK RSL CLUB BENCHMARK 65, 1280m: LOMAZZO 1, Nick On The Run 2, Grafelli 3, Gronky 4.
4-4.00, BOOK FOR MUSWELLBROOK CUP DAY NOW MAIDEN, 1280m: ZANJAN 1, Andrianna 2, Smith 3, It’s Relative 4.
5-4.41, MAYORS CUP, 1750m: DALMATIA PRINCE 1, Nikkas ‘N’ A Twist 2, Fraajmahal 3, Sunday Swindler 4.
6-5.16, MUSWELLBROOK COAL COMPANY BOWMAN SPRINT, 900m: ABSOLUTE RIPPER 1, Eminent Duke 2, Cohesion 3, Pel 4.
7-5.56, HOLLYDENE ESTATE WINES CLASS ONE, 1450m: KULNURA 1, Serious Dancer 2, Marathon 3, Our Chad 4.