Explosive effort as Dylan Gibbons lands maiden Group One victory in Sydney Cup

Dylan Gibbons won the 2023 Sydney Cup on the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained Explosive Jack at Royal Randwick on Saturday. Photo: Bradley Photos.

He’s gone agonisingly close recently, but Thornton product Dylan Gibbons has finally broken through for his maiden Group One victory at Royal Randwick on Saturday. 

Riding the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained Explosive Jack, Gibbons and the $21 chance finished with a wing on every hoof as they took out the $2 million Sydney Cup from the Matthew Smith-trained True Marvel (Kathy O’Hara, $101), while in third was the Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott-trained Knights Order (Tim Clark, $15). 

The pair travelled midfield in the 3200m staying event, and with 300m to go, Explosive Jack still had a lot to do, but they kept coming, with Gibbons giving a big cheer when his mount crossed in first place. 

“He was always travelling well,” Gibbons said after the win.

“When Cleveland wasn’t travelling great, I thought, ‘Am I doing really good or is he going bad’ and when we came out, I knew he was going to be strong late, but I was thinking I had too much to do.

“It probably wasn’t until 100 (metres) out when I saw the leaders starting to stop, and I thought, ‘here we go’.”

Gibbons was thrilled to deliver a Group One win for his supporters and family, who helped make his career possible.

“You can’t explain it; I was always manifesting these wins and thinking about what I’d do in the moment, but it just takes over for you,” Gibbons said.

“It’s just the pure joy of knowing that it’s not only great for me but for everyone that helped me get to this point, and I’m sure they’re enjoying this as much as me, so to see them getting a thrill out of this; it’s just a massive day.”

Gibbons and success seemingly go hand-in-hand, and since taking his first ride on Star Raider at Taree in July 2020, the 21-year-old has quickly become one of the best apprentices in Australia.

He booted home his first win in the Coffs Harbour’s Bonville Cup on the Paul Smith-trained Ocean Ruler in August 2020, and in the following two and a half years, he has ridden 279 horses to victory. 

Adding to his wonderful day at Royal Randwick, he also won on the Kris Lees-trained Razeta ($10) in the Listed 1400m event.

Gibbons will look to continue his stellar form at Warwick Farm on Monday and Newcastle on Tuesday.