Apprentice jockey Ellen Hennessy faces one of her biggest moments in the saddle when she rides proven performer Viceroy in the Albury City Handicap on Thursday.
The 21-year-old is a relatively unknown to many having commenced riding in Australia late last year after arriving from Ireland.
Viceroy’s trainer Luke Pepper is a fan of Hennessy, who will claim three kilograms on Viceroy reducing his weight to 55 kilograms.
The feature race on the first day of the two-day carnival carries prize money of $75,000 which is the biggest pay cheque Hennessy has ridden for.
Not only that, Hennessy will have six rides making it a big day for the jockey who has been making every post a winner in recent months.
Not only is it a golden opportunity for Hennessy, but also Viceroy who has previously proven himself in this type of country company finishing second in the 2018 Wagga Town Plate.
Despite not having a win to his name for two years, Viceroy finds himself in the right grade for a first-up tilt and Hennessy’s claim is an added bonus, according to Pepper.
“I have had a lot of luck with Ellen riding my horses. She is a good rider and with the three kilograms off his back it’s almost ideal,” Pepper said.
“His first-up record is pretty good with three wins from eight attempts and he turned in a good trial in preparation for this race.
“He hasn’t won for a while, but in this type of race he has the form. He was close-up in the Ramornie Handicap at Grafton last campaign and has finished second in a Wagga Town Plate.”
Viceroy will be having his first start since October, but he was actually due to race in the Gundagai Snake Gully Cup a month later.
The seven-year-old was injured and was a late scratching when entering the course and has been off the scene since.
“He had to have a spell to recover and is right to go again. His main target is the Wagga Town Plate in May and the City Handicap will be a good starting point,” he suggested.
Pepper ran second in the 2018 edition of the City Handicap with Hill Spy and would love to win the feature race at a track where he has had a lot of success with limited runners mainly restricted to cup carnival week.
Top weight Stephan is in a similar position with Viceroy in that he finds himself heading into a suitable race off a race break with a claiming apprentice on board.
Stephan’s trainer Gratz Vella said the speedster was ready after having one start back from a break.
“He is working really well and will run a big race,” Vella said.
“He won consecutive races at Rosehill late last year and with any luck he will be in the finish.”
Two kilogram claiming apprentice Logan McNeil will reduce Stephan’s weight to kilograms which is still some six kilograms above most of his rivals.