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PROVINCIAL racing’s newest Group 1 winning jockey Dylan Gibbons will break new ground at the weekend.

The star Newcastle apprentice is off to Central Queensland on Sunday to ride at Rockhampton’s Callaghan Park racetrack for the first time.

Leading Newcastle trainer Kris Lees will have two runners in regional Queensland’s richest race, the $775,000 The Archer (1300m), and has confirmed Gibbons will partner Gem Song.

“Jim Byrne will ride our other runner Animate, which I withdrew from a Doomben engagement last Saturday when we became aware he had gained a start in The Archer,” Lees said today.

“The horses will be floated from our Gold Coast base to Rockhampton on Thursday night.”

Gibbons, 21, is in only his third season of riding, and clinched his maiden Group 1 success on Explosive Jack in the $2m Sydney Cup (3200m) at Royal Randwick on April 8.

His win on Wyong filly Moonlight Grace ($8.50) in the Midway Handicap (1100m) at Hawkesbury’s stand-alone meeting last Saturday was the 283rd of his career, and his 81st this current season.

He later pleaded guilty to a careless riding charge on the Lees-trained Sir Lamorak ($18), which finished third in the Benchmark 78 Handicap (1800m) and was suspended by Racing NSW stewards.

But he is free to go to Rockhampton as his suspension does not begin until Monday, and he can ride again from May 12.

It will be the first time he has ridden in Queensland and, understandably, is looking forward to competing in the new slot race at Rockhampton, which was run for the first-time last year and won by Brisbane sprinter Emerald Kingdom, who defends his “title” on Sunday.

The Archer, conducted by Rocky Amateurs (Central Queensland Amateur Racing Club), is conducted along similar lines to Sydney’s The Everest.

Slot holders each pay $50,000 to have a selected representative in the 12-horse field, which will be run under weight-for-age conditions.

The inaugural running of The Archer carried a $440,000 purse, and was held on a Saturday. It has had a substantial increase this year to coincide with being given stand-alone status (the only meeting to be held in Queensland on Sunday).

Gem Song, who ran fifth in last year’s race, runs for Ron and Jill Milne and Australian Bloodstock, and Animate for KGB Racing.

Lees has also accepted with Ucalledit for the $75,000 The Fitzroy Open (1300m) at Rockhampton.

The former New Zealander was in brilliant form last campaign, winning four of his six Queensland starts, and has been placed in recent trials at Gosford (March 24) and the Beaumont track (April 11) to prepare him for his resumption.

*Words John Curtis April 25 - Pics Bradley Photos*

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