By Ray Hickson
With no hesitation, not for a second, jockey Koby Jennings is happy to let a race day revolve around his association with smart sprinter-miler Bobbing and this Saturday at Newcastle is no exception.
The Provincial Championships winner gave Jennings a huge buzz when he took out the $500,000 feature earlier this year and backed it up with a slashing third in the $1.3m The Kosciuszko last month.
So there’s no way Jennings is going to miss out on the chance to stay on Bobbing’s back even if it means sweating through some uncertainty.
You might think this is just another week in the life of a jockey but for Jennings, who has only had about 60 rides (not helped by an injury enforced break) since Bobbing won the Provincial Championships in April and just 10 in November to date, it’s about loyalty and opportunity.
“You always sort of hope but you don’t expect these horses to bob up, even after winning the Provincial Championships,’’ Jennings said.
“That’s why I was so over the moon and a bit shocked that we actually pulled it off, even though I was confident I could win it.
“To get people like Bernie and Anne Kelly to want to keep you on the horse that means a hell of a lot. It’d be pretty easy to dump a provincial jockey and put on one of the big guys.’’
That loyalty easily explains why a jockey whose career is dictated by what weight a potential ride will carry would forgo the guaranteed earn of several rides at the supporting provincial meeting to take just one somewhere else.
The 24-year-old faced that dilemma when Bobbing’s trainer Bernie Kelly nominated the gelding for the $1m Pages Event Hire Hunter (1300m), where at 53kg Jennings was no hope of riding, and the restricted Prime7 Handicap (1300m) with 60kg where he’d naturally retain the ride.
Bear in mind Jennings has only ridden the horse three times, he’s not even favourite at $5 with TAB in the Prime7 Handicap, but he recognises 2020 could be a big year for the six-year-old.
“It’s so competitive at the moment, it feels like there’s more jockeys than trainers,’’ he said.
“There’s so many around and everyone has linked up to their couple of stables. I go to the provincials most weeks because that’s where I can get the best number of rides from the stables I work for.
“My manager Josh (Barrett) has done an outstanding job, especially with this horse.
“Earlier this year when we were getting ready for the Provincial Championships if Bernie was thinking about running him in a qualifier but he wasn’t sure we wouldn’t take another ride in the race.
“I do think he is a Group level horse, how high he can get I’m not too sure.
“But he did surprise me in the Kosciuszko in where he came from and how quick he accelerated when I let him go so he could end up being anything.’’
Bobbing was the eye-catcher out of The Kosciuszko, he easily clocked the fastest last 600m of 32.58 (Punter’s Intelligence) as he charged into third and his last 200m of 11.01 was well over a length faster than anything else.
Jennings can see plenty of positives as Bobbing searches for a sixth career win at start 13, not the least the big track and slight step up in distance, but says he still has to be ridden a certain way.
Bobbing runs third in The Kosciuszko at Randwick on October 19
“He could be handier but he just doesn’t do that for you,’’ he said.
“From the start, pretty much the whole race, you have to make sure he’s still there with you.
“He’s just happy to lob around and it’s almost like he’s not there with you through half of the race. Then you tell him to liven up and do something he will do it for you.
“If you didn’t know him you’d probably give him a dig halfway through the race and then you’d be in all sorts so you’ve got to trust he is there with you, it might not look or feel like it but he is.’’
No doubt Bobbing’s performance at Newcastle will dictate where Kelly heads next given there’s the lure of a Doncaster exemption if he’s able to win the Group 2 $250,000 Villiers Stakes (1600m) next month.
And it would be the start a whole new dilemma for Jennings who hasn’t ridden at less than 56kg for quite some time.