LOCAL father and son racehorse training partnership of Wayne and Joel Wilkes book-ended Manning Valley Race Club's TAB meeting at Taree with winners on Tuesday.
Four-year-old gelding Nicci Knee Knack ($2.60 to $2.05) scraped in by a head in the Saxbys Drury Distribution Plate over 1000m whereas four-year-old mare Austeja ($3.60) romped home by just over 3.5 lengths in the Taree Cup Sunday 21/11 Handicap over 1250m.
Nicki Knee Knack, ridden by top apprentice Dylan Gibbons, was resuming from a spell whereas apprentice jockey Jackson Searle had an armchair ride on second-up from a spell Austeja.
Both were greeted with a heavy track after rain before and during the meeting and handled the going well for the first time.
They took advantage of their speed to be leading or in the front division after the track rating went from good to a heavy 10.
Nicci Knee Knack was third in a barrier trial behind Taree trainer Tony Ball's Standing Bear, a promising galloper which is accepted for Newcastle on Saturday.
Wayne was a little concerned with the gelding's fitness first-up after three race placings but "had enough to get first over the line.
"He is still learning his trade and will be better next starts," he said.
Joel was upbeat about the class of Austeja's win--"I couldn't be happier with her when she was unknown in the wet.
"She ticked all the boxes today and deserves to be in The Kosciuszko ($1.3million race for country gallopers at Royal Randwick on October 16),"he said.
Tuncurry trainer Terry Evans may have missed any hopes of a win when the Tuncurry Forster Gold Cup meeting was abandoned halfway through last Friday, but he has a high flyer in four-year-old mare Par Avion ($2.90), ridden by Jenny Duggan, which came with a late run down the outside to score by a half-length in the Krambach Cup Friday 15/10 Handicap over 1400m.
She previously won at Taree on August 27 and her four wins from nine starts have earned her more than $66,000.
Duggan said: "She is going so well...I couldn't fault her last start win."
Wyong trainer Geoff Englebrecht is still recovering from an operation to a tendon in his hip but he and ownership syndicate head Dr Ule Crosson, of Penrith, enjoyed watching the win of four-year-old mare Lady Samurai ($7) on their televisions at home.
The mare backed up from a good second at her previous start at Port Macquarie and had a length to spare when jockey Grant Buckley hit the line in the GPB Partners Pty Ltd Plate over 1600m.
"It was a tough effort...she fought on well...it keeps the chocolate wheel turning with the win," said Englebrecht, who seemingly always has a mare capable in the wet and getting distance.
Englebrecht went close to having a winning double with three-year-old gelding Kite Flight ($13) running second by a neck to Rainbow Rocket in the next race.
"I hope to be back to Taree for one of its main meetings when I am feeling better," he said.
Four-year-old Newcastle mare Rainbow Rocket ($7), trained by Luke Thomas and ridden by Jeff Penza came from an outside barrier to score in the Saxbys Soft Drinks Handicap over 1300m.
Jockey Matthew Palmer went into the Chill Out Mobile Coolrooms Handicap over 1000m with confidence and it was warranted with Winside ($2.80) scoring by just under a length for trainer Mark Schmetzer to make it two wins from its past three starts.
"This horse is bred for wet tracks and her form has been flawless," Palmer said.
Another mare, Newcastle's Unwavering Faith ($8), trained by Nathan Doyle and ridden by Lee Magorian, also came from a wide barrier and from well back to score by a length in the Adrian Owen Veterinarian Handicap over 1600m, Doyle also providing second with Full Coverage ($6.50).
"She is still very raw...the only worry was the heavy track," Doyle said.