FORMER Welsh jockey Ashley Morgan only arrived in Australia in August and booted home a career first winning treble at Muswellbrook on Tuesday, including a double for Paul Messara.
Morgan, 28, rode winners in England and France before coming to Australia and basing himself at Newcastle.
His treble came with successive victories for Messara on Emanuela and Artefiori and on bold front-runner Drusilla for Newcastle trainer Jay Hopkins.
He also came within a neck of four winners when he attempted to lead all the way on the Messara-trained Normality in the fifth only to be caught near the line by Materiality.
“I had a couple of doubles back home but this is my first treble,” Morgan said.
“It makes it so much easier when you are on good horses and a double at Tuncurry last week plus three here has made it a great start to the year.
“I am really enjoying Australia and I hope to stay.”
Morgan made his job on Drusilla even harder when he dropped his whip half way down the straight but he drove her to the line under hands and heels to win the Two Rivers Wines Benchmark 58 (1280m).
That followed a runaway victory in a 1300m maiden at Tuncurry on January 19 in which she scored by nearly seven lengths.
“The way she won at Tuncurry really surprised us,” Hopkins said.
“She failed at Newcastle three runs back so I gave her a freshen up and it has turned her around.”
NO Doubt Acracker, switched from a Queensland stable to Kris Lees, overcame the outside barrier and brought off a confident plunge in winning the tab.com.au Maiden (1000m) at her first start from a break to give the trainer and Andrew Gibbons the first leg of a treble.
Later they won the Horsepower Maiden (1450m) with Materiality and the final race, the Great Northern Super Crisp Lager Benchmark 58 (1280m) with Heredero.
Those three wins took Gibbons’ tally this season to a career best 82 and there is still five months of the season remaining.
The way No Doubt Acracker hit the line suggests she is going to be even more effective over more ground.
No Doubt Acracker ($2.40 fav) was the best to jump but Gibbons allowed her to drop back before taking a trail one off the fence and three back.
“I thought after the first 150 metres she was going to be hard to beat,” Gibbons said.
“She was really impressive late.”
Chris Hull, Lees’ foreman, said the filly had come to the stable with two unplaced runs, a fifth at Toowoomba and a fourth at Lismore.
“If you had a good look at both runs, they were pretty impressive behind good horses,” he explained.
“The horse he finished behind at Lismore (Snow Valley) has gone on and won another two.
“Her two trials for us were good and while she is not big, she is going to win her fair share of races.”
No Doubt Acracker ran a class record of 56.17 seconds to beat Fritz’s Factor ($4.40) by a length.
LEES and Gibbons followed up later in the afternoon by winning with Materiality, a $250,000 yearling buy at the 2017 Gold Coast sale.
Vinery Stud races her in partnership with several other high-profile owners including Werrett Bloodstock and Kia Ora Stud and bought her with a view to middle distance races.
Materiality was having only her third start after placings over shorter distances at Scone and Coffs Harbour.
“This race and the two before have all been part of Kris’ plan to build her up in distance,” Vinery stud boss Peter Orton said.
“She was a bit of an ugly duckling early but she has furnished out into a lovely filly.
“The way she finished that race off confirms she is looking for further.”
Gibbons won the start on Materiality ($1.80 fav) from the inside gate but allowed her to drift back to fifth with the $4 second favourite Normality (Rachael Murray) setting up a solid pace in front.
Normality continued to lead in the straight with Materiality catching her late to win by a neck.
Their final winner, Heredero, ended a succession of minor placings but the win was not without its moments.
Gibbons had settled Heredero ($2.10 fav) in third and fourth place, on the fence, and in the straight went for a run which closed.
He had to quickly switch back to the inside and under hard riding drove home to beat New Endeavour ($10) by half a length.
PUNTERS were on the money when they backed Vega De Lago (Reece Jones) into favouritism in the Godolphin Benchmark 66 (1450m) and he responded accordingly courtesy of a top ride from the young apprentice.
The Geoff O’Brien trained six-year-old was backed in from $11 to start the $3.80 favourite and rattled home along the fence to win by a length from Longchamp Lass ($4.60).
Jones had Vega De Lago well back early, slowly edged forward but was caught up behind a wall of horses approaching the turn.
Immediately the field turned for home Jones switched to the inside courtesy of the cutaway and came away to win by a length from Longchamp Lass ($4.60).
Three starts back Vega De Lago ran a good fifth in a Highway Hcp at Rosehill but then failed in the Inverell cup and again at Gunnedah.
“He is a good horse but he needs luck and has seldom had it,” O’Brien said.
“The ride from Reece was a beauty which helped a lot.”
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