Sports

Jennings finds ‘sweet spot’ after heeding late SOS from Hawkes team

Koby Jennings needed only a quiet word from Michael Hawkes to be prised away from a moderate book of rides at Newcastle to partner one of the most exciting horses engaged at Randwick on Saturday.

Brenton Avdulla's knee injury suffered at trackwork during the week prompted the Hawkes team to send an SOS to Jennings, who has plied most of his trade at the provincials each weekend since becoming a senior rider.

Back in town: Koby Jennings.

Back in town: Koby Jennings.Credit:bradleyphotos.com.au

His association with Hall of Famer John Hawkes and sons Michael and Wayne has seen him trade in a trip up the M1 in favour of riding Diplomatico in the Brian Crowley Stakes and stablemate Firsthand later in the day.

"They're my biggest supporters," Jennings said of the Hawkes team.

"Ever since I've come out of my apprenticeship they've been the first people to support me. They've been putting me on for a few good years now. I feel really lucky to have someone of their standing to be supporting me.

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"They're the most loyal people I've ever ridden for, too. There's no doubt about that."

Heavyweight hoop Jennings was one of Sydney's leading junior riders during his apprenticeship, but has taken a couple of years to find his sweet spot since earning his senior spurs.

I feel really lucky to have someone of their standing to be supporting me

Koby Jennings

By his own admission he found it difficult to balance the desire to ride regularly at a metropolitan level with limited opportunities or more frequently on the provincial circuit.

"I've found my zone now riding a lot at the provincials on a Saturday and there was that time there a little while ago where I found myself stuck between riding in town or at the provincials," Jennings said.

"And by the end of it it doesn't do you any good because when you need to go back to the provincials you don't have the support there having been in town for a few weeks.

"At the moment I'm happy taking the six or seven rides at the provincials. I'd eventually like to be getting back into town, but we have to see how that plays out. This is obviously the time to be switching into town for a few weeks and it was only by the support of the Hawkeses that I got these rides and Brenton's unfortunate luck."

Jennings has already racked up one black-type success on Danish Twist in the June Stakes a couple of years ago, but would dearly love another on the heavily-backed Diplomatico in the Brian Crowley for three-year-olds.

The Snitzel colt bolted in on the Kensington track at his last start, but hasn't seen a wet track in either a barrier trial or on race day.

"I've seen him at the races before and I went back and had a quick look at his two runs the other night," Jennings said. "He looks like he can get a bit aggressive in his runs from greenness and feeling well. He's had the run this time which will take that little bit of freshness out."

Diplomatico ($3) shaded Godolphin's Roosevelt ($3.30) in early markets with BetEasy on Thursday.

Adam Pengilly is a Sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.

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