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  • Provincial Racing NSW


JOCKEY Koby Jennings hopes to celebrate his impending move back “home” to Victoria by winning Saturday’s $250,000 Blacktown Workers Club Group Hawkesbury Guineas (1400m).

He will ride the lightly-raced three-year-old Midnight Opal ($18 with on Thursday morning) for Newcastle trainer Nathan Doyle in the Group 3 feature.

Jennings and Doyle are great friends, and the pair has enjoyed a successful association on the track; the jockey’s 55 wins for him being the most for any trainer of his career 446.

Twenty-nine-year-old Jennings hails from Traralgon in the Gippsland region, and says he is returning south for family reasons.

“My partner Nerissa and I have two young children, so it’s the right time to head back to Victoria.

“There’s no set time for our move, but it will probably be at the end of the month.

“I haven’t contacted anyone in Victoria yet, but hopefully will be adopted by a couple of stables once we get settled and continue riding.”

Jennings’ biggest victory was the $7.5m Golden Eagle (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens in October 2020 on Godolphin mare Colette, ironically nosing out leading Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup’s subsequent Group 1 winner Icebath.

Nerissa Copp was working for Widdup at the time.

Jennings won the Bill Wade Medal at Newcastle in 2018, awarded to the jockey with the best strike rate during the season. He rode 15 winners from 51 rides for a strike rate of 3.4.

He also won the inaugural $500,000 The Debut 2YO Plate (900m) on Rush Hour for Doyle at the Magic Millions carnival at the Gold Coast in January last year.

That was the second race of the day run on a “Heavy 10” track, and the remainder of the meeting was subsequently postponed.

Doyle has decided to put winkers on Midnight Opal, who races in the Australian Bloodstock colours, for the Guineas.

Jennings has had a close association with the Deep Field colt, who was sold to Doyle for $190,000 at the 2022 Inglis Classic yearling sale.

“I rode him as an early two-year-old in the breeze-ups prior to the Inglis Ready2Race sale later that year,” he said.

“He didn’t reach his reserve and Australian Bloodstock later bought into him before he began racing.”

Jennings partnered Midnight Opal when he easily won a Scone Maiden Plate (1100m) on September 22 last year when on debut.

He has since ridden him twice in town for a fourth in the Listed Brian Crowley Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick on October 28, and more recently when fifth to the ill-fated Brave Mead in the Listed Darby Munro Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 23.

Schwarz (James McDonald), who was runner-up in the Darby Munro, was a well-backed $3.10 Guineas favorite on Thursday morning.

Midnight Opal’s two wins from his six starts have been on good tracks, and Hawkesbury at 8am on Thursday was rated a “Good 4”, with virtually no rain recorded at that point.

Godolphin stablemates Razors and Inhibitions were early withdrawals from the Guineas.

Story John Curtis, May 3, 2024 - Pics Muswellbrook Race Club

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