WEDNESDAY: August 25, 2021: FOR the last few weeks, Mitchell and Desiree Kearney have been valuable industry helpers, taking Warwick Farm horses to Royal lRandwick and strapping them as well because of COVID restrictions.
They were back there today in a different role, celebrating their first success at headquarters, courtesy of stable favorite Heza Gentleman, who won on the Kensington track.
The popular Hawkesbury husband and wife training duo worked out a plan to land the Benchmark 72 Handicap (1550m), and apprentice Ellen Hennessy carried it out perfectly.
“Ellen was thinking she might take a sit if the favorite Off Shaw’s rider Josh Parr was keen to make the running,” Mitch Kearney said this evening.
“But we told her to make the running herself and ensure Off Shaw had to work with his big weight.”
Clearly, that proved the difference between victory and defeat. With Hennessy’s 3kg claim, Heza Gentleman ($10) carried only 51.5kg, 8kg less than $2.50 favorite Off Shaw, who couldn’t quite peg back the gutsy Hawkesbury gelding in the closing stages.
“It was a terrific thrill to win our first race at Randwick,” Kearney said. “Our first winner together was Final Trick at Bathurst in February, 2018 and this horse (Heza Gentleman) also gave us our first city winner at Warwick Farm 12 months ago.”
Heza Gentleman could not be better named.
“He is a fantastic horse to train, and gives everything in his races,” Desiree Kearney said.
“I wish we had 10 of him. And he’s so good with our kids when they come to the stables. He is very gentle with them.”
Heza Gentleman is a Nicconi five-year-old out of the American mare Silk Spun, who gave Mitch Kearney his first winner (when training in his own right) at Hawkesbury in July, 2014.
“I had been training for only 12 months, and she was my eighth starter,” he recalled.
Apprentice Hennessy’s booking for Heza Gentleman was no coincidence, either.
The Kearneys have previously stated that he races best for the “girls” – and who can argue?
He was also ridden by females in his first three wins; then stable apprentice Zoe Connally when he broke through at Mudgee in October, 2019, Cejay Graham at Warwick Farm in August last year, and Winona Costin in the Dubbo Cup Prelude (1420m) earlier this month.
Alysha Collett didn’t win on Heza Gentleman, but has played an important role in the gelding’s current form.
“Alysha rode him at Goulburn on July 9 when he ran second, and afterwards recommended taking blinkers off him as he didn’t seem to want to go past the other horse,” Mitch Kearney explained.
“So we did that and instead put visors on him.”
Heza Gentleman’s recent country victory gave him automatic entry into the $100,000 Dubbo Gold Cup Showcase (1600m) on September 12.
“We’re keen to give him the chance to win the Dubbo Cup, but that will depend on how the handicapper treats him after today’s win,” Mitch Kearney said.
. Team Kearney’s win with Heza Gentleman on top of Brad Widdup’s victory in the previous Kensington race with Calgary Queen lifted the number of winners trained out of Hawkesbury to 17 already this month.
. Heza Gentleman is Silk Spun’s first foal, and her second foal, a now four-year-old mare Suzie’s Comet (by Dane Shadow), has been retired from the racetrack after tailing the field home at both starts.