By Jack Marshall
Punters are used to seeing the Kris Lees and Andrew Gibbons combination dominate around the Newcastle region and Hunter Valley tracks but come Friday the pair will combine to try and capture a much greater victory.
Gibbons takes the mount on the Lees-trained Singing in the $160,000 Carlton Mid Wyong Gold Cup and will be looking to claim his first Wyong major, with what will be first ride in the race. Singing is an $10 chance with TAB fixed odds and a win would give Lees back to back Wyong Cups. He took out last year’s edition with another Australian Bloodstock owned import in Slow Pace.
Gibbons was down to ride Singing in last Saturdays Premiers Cup but was scratched due to the firmness of the track. Lees is happy with the seven-year-old entire’s progression heading into the race first-up.
“He has a good first-up record and his first run for me he just got pipped on the post at Canterbury to run a nice second in a strong race,” Lees said. “He’s had a strong grounding and done plenty of work leading into this but he will need enough give in the track as we don’t want to run him on firm ground.
“He can get a bit stirred up pre-race as well but if he handles the occasion alright and we get some give in the track he should be very competitive.”
Lees is quite happy to repay the hard work of one of his stable riders in Gibbons, who is Lees’s primary rider for the country region and travels plenty of miles to ride his horses: “Gibbo’s been riding him in all of his work and he knows himself how well the horse is going so I’m quite happy to leave him on,” Lees said.
For Gibbons, the opportunity to ride in a Wyong Cup is a chance he is not letting slip by with the hoop confident of running a good race: “I’ve never had many opportunities in Wyong Cups so to get one that looks a live chance in the race is even better, “he said.
“First up the distance would be a concern for most horses but not for him and he’s proved that with some good runs first up. The tightness of the track is a concern for many but I don’t think it will be to much of a worry as he has run well at Canterbury and tightness wise it is similar to Wyong.”
Singing has drawn barrier one in the small but competitive eight horse field. “In a perfect world we would have been able to box seat from the barrier but there doesn’t look to be a great deal of speed. I’ll have to discuss it with Kris and decide whether we want to lead or box seat but I definitely see us in the first couple,” Gibbons said.