ANDREW Gibbons' riding skills were on display when the prominent Novocastrian hoop was responsible for a treble at the Port Macquarie race meeting on Tuesday.
It wasn't all clear sailing as his mount in the Maiden Plate, Our Tito, had to recover from heavy interference down the straight when Munsa Magic raced ungenerously and changed course abruptly towards the fence.
Gibbons didn't panic and was able to regain control of the Kris Lees trained colt to score a narrow victory before surviving a protest fired in by the fourth placegetter, Nightmare.
The middle pin of the three-peat occurred in the fourth event when he steered the Allan Denham trained gelding, Fantasy Eagle, along the rails to race clear for a comprehensive victory over Honovi and the early pacemaker, Pure Rubick.
Joy for Us was the only starter on the day for the Wyong stable of Kim Waugh and gained a start in the final event due to scratchings before powering home to land a solid victory and complete a wonderful day of riding for the jockey.
Punters who backed the Lonhro mare into favouritism were concerned when Joy for Us was in a pocket but Gibbons was able to extricate into the clear from Wotsizname before bounding away to score by just over a length.
The successful day takes his riding tally for the season to 93 wins and 136 minors and places him fourth in the NSW premiership behind Greg Ryan, Aaron Bullock and Blaike McDougall.
The day was also a welcome return for local rider, Matthew Bennett, who opened the program when leading all the way aboard the Grant Prosser trained gelding, Balboa, before coming from last and powering down the outside to score on Leave Me Some.
The win of Leave Me Some for Newcastle trainer, Grant Marshall was outstanding as the Time Thief mare missed the start noticeably before making up enormous ground down the crown of the track in the straight to land the prize.
Bennett hasn't ridden since March at Scone after a trackwork fall placed him on the sidelines with injury and the successful double was a sweet tonic for the popular hoop.
John Sprague held the local training banner aloft when Spirit in the Sky was able to stave off the finishing effort of Ceremonial Prince to score by a decisive margin in race five while Nosey continued the great run for apprentice, Liam Blanch, when leading throughout in the following event.
Former Adelaide trainer, Mark Minervini, rarely makes the journey from his latest base at Newcastle to Port without success and this was again the case when Sunreel came with a wet sail to salute in the John Oxley Motors Handicap.
It was a calculated ride by Luke Cumberland as the Dundeel mare came from well back before gaining a split down the home running to race clear in the straight and withstand the finishing run of Stylish Pattern to score an impressive win.
The meeting was conducted under overcast skies with rain over the preceding week resulting in a heavy eight surface which played fairly evenly with some advantage to horses racing close to the fence
Racing continues at Port on Sunday June 14 when the Wauchope Jockey Club host an eight-event program highlighted by the $29,000 Wauchope Cup and Wauchope Sprint, with the cup winner exempt from the ballot for the South Grafton Cup in July.