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FATHER AND SON ARE GROUP 1 RIVALS FOR FIRST TIME


ANDREW Gibbons is understandably immensely proud of what his talented apprentice son Dylan has already achieved in his short career.

But family pride will be put aside for a couple of minutes when the barrier stalls crash open to start Saturday’s $4m Doncaster Mile at Royal Randwick on the opening day of The Championships.

The Newcastle father and son are riding against each other for the first time in a black type race, let alone one of the flagship Group 1 events on the Australian calendar.

Their bookings are both imports from the powerful Ciaron Maher and David Eustace stable; Andrew rides Nugget and Dylan partners Duke De Sessa.

Nugget, already the winner of three races in Australia, has drawn near the outside in the capacity Doncaster line-up and is currently a $34 chance with TAB.com.au, whereas Duke De Sessa has fared much better for his first start here and is half the odds.

None of that baulks Gibbons Snr at all, and he has already started a program to lose around 4.5kg and is confident he will ride Nugget at his correct 51.5kg.

“Dylan and myself and our partners were driving to Sydney last Friday afternoon to see the brilliant US comedian Kevin Hart that night when I got a phone call from Australian Bloodstock’s Luke Murrell about riding Nugget in the Doncaster Mile,” Andrew Gibbons said this afternoon.

“Luke and I went to the same school, and I have had a terrific association with Australian Bloodstock, so it was great to get Luke’s call out of the blue.

“I had spoken to my manager only the previous day about riding at either Hawkesbury or Taree on Saturday.”

Gibbons Snr, who has ridden more than 1300 winners and been in 11 Group 1 races, is looking forward not only to competing against his son in such a historic race, but having the chance to post his first success at racing’s elite level.

“I’m thrilled to be riding Nugget,” he said. “He won those three races in a row late last year at Kembla Grange, Randwick and Sandown, admittedly in weaker class, and his first-up third in the Group 1 Orr Stakes (1400m) at Sandown last month was outstanding,” he said.

“He wasn’t far away last time when fifth in the All-Star Mile at The Valley at weight-for-age, and comes down 7.5kg.

“I feel he is a real live chance. I’m being careful what I eat and will get really serious on Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning to make sure I’m at Nugget’s weight.

“Whilst I haven’t had a Group 1 placing, I thought I was going to win the Coolmore Classic at Rosehill eight years ago on Kris Lees’ mare Hera ($151), who ran fifth and was beaten only a half length.

“I also ran fifth on another of Kris’ horses Doukhan ($101) in the Sydney Cup in 2019.”

Gibbons cannot hide how proud he is of Dylan’s achievements, with 275 winners already to his tally in this only his third full season.

“He is doing an outstanding job, and his confidence is such that he has quickly shown he belongs in the Group 1 ranks.

“Dylan has had only the six Group 1 rides to date, and already been placed twice on Montefilia, the latest when a close second at Rosehill last Saturday in the Tancred Stakes.

“And the mare’s trainer David Payne has just confirmed Dylan will stay on her in the $4m Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on Saturday week, which is a wonderful vote of confidence in him.

“Dylan has been riding around 53kg in Sydney lately, and won’t have to sweat much to make Duke De Sessa’s 52kg.”

Gibbons’ Snr’s delight in his son’s progress certainly won’t stop him trying to beat him on Saturday.

“I’ll be 45 next month and at the back end of my career, whereas Dylan turned 21 last October and has only just begun,” he said.

“Who knows how many more chances I will get to ride in a Group 1?

“I’m out there to win, but of course I’d settle for a dead-heat with Dylan. That would really be something special to savour.”


*Words John Curtis* Pic - Dylan, with his father Andrew, brother Ryan & grandparents John & Cathy Gibbons - Bradley Photos

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