Andrew Gibbons and Kris Lees, Newcastle’s premier jockey and trainer from last season, combine with three well fancied gallopers at the Newcastle Race Meeting on Tuesday. The pair who both set personal records last season are represented by Elegant Grace (Race 1), Wandabaa (Race 2) and Magic Charlee (Race 5).
Elegant Grace is a three-year-old on debut in the opening event a 900 metre 3YO Maiden Handicap. The filly, a daughter of super sire Fastnet Rock, is raced by Australian Bloodstock, Coolmore, Lees Racing and Newcastle Accountant Chris Sneddon.
She has genuine speed and comes off an easy Cessnock trial win on September 30. Wandabaa is unbeaten in two country appearances in May / June and the filly resumes in the 900 metre Benchmark 64 Handicap.
Gibbons was aboard Wandabaa when she won on debut at Gunnedah and she was an easy Armidale winner in her only other start.
The consistent Magic Charlee is the remaining galloper Gibbons rides for Lees, and he contests the 1300 metre Class 1 Handicap. The four-year-old is ready to win after two runs from a spell. He was only beaten a length by promising Scone mare Deepwood Vale at Scone on September 27.
Gibbons said on Sunday that he expected all three to run well. “I trialled Elegant Grace twice when she was in the stables last time. She has good speed and her recent trial win was impressive. She has a nice barrier but there is a couple of others in the race that have ability. Wandabba has had two recent trials. I always believed she would get better with time. She may need a longer trip, but she will run well.
Magic Charlee is a horse I won a race on last preparation. He needed the two runs he has had this time in, and the drop-in weight is a positive. He is a trier and has a chance. I have the three other mounts.
Bacinblac is fitter for her first up run and the 1600-meter trip is more suitable.
French Response and Diamond Pedrille are outsiders but bother can run okay,” Gibbons said.
Gibbons rode 137 winners last season, took a break from racing earlier this season and went overseas. Since he has been back, he has been in great form and has ridden 23 winners in the first two months and two weeks of the current season.
Central Coast jockey Josh Parr, fresh from a Group 1 win aboard Shadow Hero in the Spring Champion Stakes will ride the promising California Salto at Newcastle. The Snowden filly will contest the 1300 metre Fillies and Mares Class 1 Handicap. She has not raced since a brilliant Warwick Farm two-year-old Maiden win on June 12. She has had two recent barrier trials and will be hard to beat first up.