TRAINER Gabrielle Englebrecht couldn’t wish for a more dutiful attendant for in-form mare Celtic Kiss than the man who releases her onto the track ahead of Thursday’s Fred Cooper Cup (1600m) at Goulburn.
That man is none other than former jockey Mark Hanneybel, who not only part owns the mare but he won races on her dam Eirekiss and was placed on the grandmother about 20 years ago.
“Mark knows Celtic Kiss inside out and I really value him a lot with her, getting her spot on into each of these races,’’ Englebrecht said. “He rides her in all her trackwork and spoils her rotten. He has raced three generations of her family so he is a huge asset in her preparations.
“He was the one who has maintained a lot of faith in her in the early days when she was doing a lot wrong.’’
RACE 6: FRED COOPER CUP (1600m)
Right now, Celtic Kiss is doing everything right with consecutive wins, one in a Maiden, the next a Class 2 over the same course and distances as Thursday’s race.
“You know what these mares are like; they hit form, their confidence goes right up and they race better and better,’’ Englebrecht said. “Her main piece of work last Saturday morning was excellent, it was certainly winning work so she goes into this race confident, fit and strong. There is nothing I can fault her on — she’s ready.’’
Englebrecht is a great supporter of female jockeys and will, for a fourth consecutive time, call on Kayla Nisbet to do the steering on Celtic Kiss.
“I really think that Kayla is a talented young rider, she’s got an excellent rapport with this mare, this horse just runs for her, she leaves her alone early, she doesn’t try and bustle her and race quite close and she times her runs well on her,’’ the trainer said.
“Both rides have been 10 out of 10, so we’re happy to stick with her so long as she keeps riding her like that.’’