Young trainer Ethan Ensby is keen to exorcise the demons of his last visit to Rosehill when he returns to run Partnership on Golden Gift day.
The 24-year-old is still haunted by the memory of his trip to Sydney in 2017 when Vitervo Star was fatally injured with apprentice jockey Deanne Panya hurt in the subsequent fall.
The Ballina-based horseman said the incident rendered him a “blubbering idiot” but he remains grateful for some consoling words from then-Godolphin trainers John O’Shea and Darren Beadman.
“That would have to be the hardest day of my life,” Ensby told AAP.
“I felt like I’d left a kid there. It meant a hell of a lot to me that two blokes of their stature did what they did.”
He will saddle up Partnership in the Iron Jack Handicap (2400m) on Saturday, fresh from notching the stable’s first city winner at Eagle Farm in Brisbane a fortnight ago.
Saturday’s race now shapes as a decent chance for Ensby, who launched his training career at age 18 from his home town of Casino, to break through for a maiden NSW metropolitan victory.
“It would nice to get the hoodoo off my back,” he said.
Partnership arrived at Ballina in late 2018 from Oaks-winning trainer John Sargent, who has been an influential figure and friend to Ensby.
“He sends me up a lot of good horses, Partnership being one of them,” Ensby said.
“I’ve just bought my 10th horse from Sarge. It arrived this morning and we’ve won with eight of them.
“He told me with Partnership ‘you’ll get a really nice horse in the spring’, and he’s dead on the money.”
The four-year-old gelding has triumphed in his past three starts but Ensby admits he was a source of frustration this spring until the addition of blinkers in a training gallop.
“He’s been a bit of a nightmare,” he said.
“He’s the sort of horse that, once he gets back, he can lose interest very quickly.
“But he’s pulled up well from all his runs. He’s looking good.
“He’s only a light horse. So to travel him down is a little bit of a concern but we’ve made sure he’s got everything.”
Apprentice jockey Noriyuki Masuda has been booked to ride the stayer, rated a $13 chance with the TAB on Thursday behind $2.50 favourite Angel Of Heaven.