When Koby Jennings looks back on 2019, he remembers it as a year of challenge and reward.
The challenges started early when his father, Troy Kilgower, underwent treatment for cancer.
Between riding engagements, the NSW-based Jennings travelled home to be with his family who live in Victoria’s Gippsland region.
It was a difficult period but in the middle of it came a bright spot when Jennings landed the richest win of his career, taking out the Provincial Championships aboard Bobbing in April
“It was a big pick-me-up when Bobbing came along,” Jennings said.
But just a couple of months later, his topsy turvy year took another turn.
Jennings was kicked in the face by a horse in a trackwork fall, fracturing his jaw in three places, along with his wrist.
The injuries eventually healed and last month, Jennings was back on top celebrating his first Group win aboard Luvaluva in the Summer Cup at Randwick on Boxing Day.
Better still, his father has been given the all clear.
“Everything has come good now. I forget how long the treatment went for, but he’s come through it and bounced back,” Jennings said.
Jennings will reunite with the John Sargent-trained Luvaluva at Randwick on Saturday when the pair chase back-to-back wins in the Listed January Cup (2000m).
It is his only ride on the program after a few of his other bookings were non-acceptors but there was no thought of relinquishing the mount.
“Especially when they win like that. You definitely don’t jump off them,” Jennings said.
“Riding her on that day, she felt like an unbeaten horse, like she was absolutely flying so John has obviously done everything right and we were able to get the job done.”
Luvaluva rises 2-1/2 kilos in weight against a similar field but Jennings is confident the mare will handle the extra impost.
Looking to upset the early favourite will be Adam Hyeronimus aboard Taikomochi who finished third in the Summer Cup and is regarded as Luvaluva’s biggest threat.
The six-year-old has been around the mark in all four runs and is ready to peak.
“He’s such a big horse and he’s getting a bit older now, it’s just taken longer to get him to his peak fitness,” Hyeronimus said.
“This is his sort of distance and he bobs up every preparation.
“It’s a small field and if he can get his own way and bowl along at a comfortable speed he’s going to keep going and be hard to beat.”
Hyeronimus has had injury woes of his own and only returned to race riding this week after being sidelined for almost three months with a bulging disc in his lower back.