LEADING jockeys Andrew Gibbons from Newcastle and Ben Looker from Port Macquarie had winning doubles at Manning Valley Race Club's TAB meeting before a good crowd at Taree on Friday.
Gibbons ended the meeting on 132 wins for the season, but was unhappy his best ride was scratched at the barrier, whereas Looker again grabbed his 100th winner.
Gibbons' mount Cerinthe Belle ($7.50), trained by Kris Lees at Newcastle, blitzed boom local filly, heavily backed favourite Oh So Hot ($3.50 to $1.90), trained on the track by Ross Stitt, in the De Bortoli Wines 2YO Maiden Handicap over 1250m in his first win.
But his $1.80 favourite Love Delight in the Hopkins Livermore Cup Friday 16/8 F & M Benchmark 58 Handicap over 1300m failed to enter the starting stalls and was scratched from his next race.
The Lees trained six-year-old mare had a warning placed on her after she was difficult to load at Muswellbrook on July 1 when having her first start for the stable, despite finally scoring by three lengths.
Gibbons thought the mare was his best ride but the race went to eight-year-old Kempsey mare Piccolo Miss ($3.30), trained by Daniel and Rocky Simonetta, who were delighted that she had turned 10 "duck egg" placings at the track into a win by a head for Looker.
Rocky said the stable was confident of a big run after her slashing run when narrowly beaten into fifth at Grafton at her previous start.
Gibbons struck back in the WWW.Manningvalleyraceclub.com.au Benchmark 58 Handicap over 1600m with a .25 length win on four-year-old gelding Roy's Command ($7.50), trained at Muswwellbrook by Todd Howlett.
It was a good move by the trainer as he scratched the gelding from Dubbo races on Friday to rely on the Taree race.
The trainer's relative owner Max Howlett said the $90,000 buy at the Magic Millions "has shown plenty but not always delivered."
Gibbons when congratulated for two wins from two starters said:"The best of them got scratched..it should be three wins from three starts."
He later had a just under a length second on resuming gelding Storm Attack ($11), trained at Taree by Wayne Wilkes, behind gelding Jamaican Dream ($5.50), trained at Newcastle by Paul Perry and ridden by apprentice jockey Samantha Clenton, in the Cup Carnival Bookings Open CG&E Benchmark 58 Handicap over 1300m.
Clenton said: "My horse travelled a bit keen early but was too good."
Gibbons was most unlucky when a gap closed on his mount Airlie Avenue ($3.50), another Lees filly, halfway down the straight, the two in front at that stage fighting out the finish with Wyong mare Luddenham Lass ($3.30), trained by Jeff Englkebrecht and ridden by Robert Thompson, scoring by 1.75 lengths from Delayed Response ($6.50) from Coffs Harbour in the XXXX Gold Class 1 Handicap over 1600m.
And the price of $26 (paid $6.40 place on TAB) for Warwick Farm mare Las Vegas, trained by Graham Brown, was surprising for its third placing for Gibbons behind mare Second Island ($2.60), trained at Gosford by Gregory McFarlane in the last race-Call Us Now 02 6552 1183 Handicap over 1000m.
McFarlane said his mare was resuming from a spell after a good trial in the hands of Aaron Bullock and he expected the four-year-old to be ready "for town" after recording 57.96 for the journey.
Looker's other winner was six-year-old gelding Mister Maker ($15), trained at Coffs Harbour by owner Catherine Inwood in the Taree Gold Cup Sunday 18/8 Benchmark 66 Handicap over 2000m.
The other winner was filly Toe Tapper ($12), trained at Newcastle by David Atkins and ridden by Luke Cumberland, in the Saxbys Soft Drinks 3YO+ Maiden over 1300m.
Racing returns to Taree for another TAB meeting conducted by Manning Valley Race Club on Monday, July 29.