Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Mitchell's Deni connection

After learning to ride on a pony at Bill Jennings' Deniliquin farm, Kevin Mitchell became a top jockey.

JIM ZEALLEY June 6, 2014 4:00am

Kevin Mitchell, 12, on Queeney at Jim Jennings’ father’s farm.

Former Jockey Kevin Mitchell, 85, who died in Melbourne last week was born in Deniliquin and retained a close association through life-long friend Jim Jennings.

Jennings attended Kevin’s funeral at Springvale Botanical Cemetery on Tuesday.

Kevin Mitchell was aged six when his family moved to Brunswick but regularly spent holidays here with the Jennings family.

He learned to ride on a pony at Bill Jennings’ dairy farm.

Jim Jennings was 15 when he joined Caulfield trainer Les Doyle, formerly of Deniliquin, but returned home after two weeks.

His place was taken by Mitchell who later transferred to Basil Conaghan.

Mitchell was still an apprentice when he won the 1947 Deniliquin Cup on Fort Ayr.

When he retired at 61 he had ridden 1300 winners in a career spanning 45 years.

He was renowned for his skill and soft hands and many winners landed betting plunges.

His major wins included the 1979 Newmarket Handicap on the Bart Cummings trained Better Beyond, 1974 Adelaide Cup on Phar Ace and 1984 Doncaster Handicap on Vite Cheval.

Some years he spent a few months in Singapore and rode five winners at a meeting at Bukit Timah in 1958.

Feature of the Wagga meeting on Saturday was apprentice Nick Heywood’s treble.

He won on Grey Drama, Yet Tobe Convinced and Ketchum.

The latter is trained by his father Chris Heywood.

Jye McNeil is another in-form apprentice.

The former Kerang boy is commanding regular rides in Melbourne where he has ridden 21 winners this season, two behind leading apprentice Patrick Moloney who is sidelined with an injury.

McNeil rode three winners at Wodonga on Monday.

He completed the treble on the impressive Bay Of Biscay.

The Brian Cox trained four year-old had a nine-length margin in the Benchmark 70 (1300m).

Follow - Almalad: Won on debut at Gosford in December and resumed with dominant win at Randwick.

Coming winners: Dancing Rose was third at Sale at first start for 11 weeks.

Marrakesh began slowly and raced wide when second at Mornington at her second start.

Miss Maggiebeel improved for Flemington second to in-form Griante.

They race at Swan Hill today, Saturday and Sunday.

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