Ellen Hennessy believes that Al Mah Haha can run well in The Big Dance

Ellen Hennessy was interviewed about her run in The Big Dance when she glimpsed one of the greatest jockeys in the world, Frankie Dettori.

The 24-year-old Irish apprentice blushed and was momentarily speechless. “I am struck by the stars”, she said as Dettori passed by, waved and said: “Hello everyone”.

Dettori, 51, has driven more than 3,000 winners around the world, over 250 at Group 1 level including 20 British classics. He has ridden some of the greatest horses of the modern era including Dubai Millennium, Lammtarra, Golden Horn, Daylami, Stradivarius and Enable.

Hennessy has only been racing for four years, has won 120 races and still claims 3 kg on metropolitan racecourses.

The flamboyant Dettori is probably the most famous person in world racing, but it is in the nature of the sport that everyone is equal on the track.

So, on Tuesday Hennessy will race Dettori in the $ 2 million The Big Dance (1600m) at Royal Randwick on Tuesday – and not even she can take advantage of her claim.

But Hennessy got something that Dettori missed. He has driven 16 Sydney winners and he is still chasing the first of him.

Dettori gets a chance to break his Sydney duck in The Big Dance when he rides the Kris Lees-trained Lloyd Williams-owned Hosier, the $ 5 feature-length competition favorite.

Hennessy rides Al Mah Haha, trained at Goulburn by Tash Burleigh, who is the grade outsider at $ 201.

But there was an understandable exuberance in Hennessy’s voice as he talked about his first run in a $ 2 million run.

“It’s super exciting,” Hennessy said.

“I am very lucky to have the opportunity. I am lucky that my weight is good. I can drive 52kg quite easily.

“But I’m looking forward to driving Al Mah Haha in this race.”

Al Mah Haha hasn’t started since June, but Burleigh gave the eight-year-old gelding three reef tests to prepare for his return.

Hennessy was not on Al Mah Haha in those barrier tests, but previously rode the star of Burleigh’s stable in the races.

“I know him pretty well. He’s been in and out of form in his last two starts, but he’s moved up a bit where he hasn’t raced as well,” said Hennessy.

“I’m sure Tash has it ready. He did the three trials and Tash, she rode herself, so she knows how fit they must be and he did pretty well. ”

Hennessy began her riding career in Ireland but, frustrated by the lack of opportunities, she decided to try her luck in Australia.

“I wasn’t trying much in Ireland, it was very competitive. It’s hard to let anyone be left with just a £ 10 apprentice claiming the apprentice, ”he told her.

“After about a year in Ireland, I went out in Australia with Robbie Dolan.”

Both Irish apprentices tried their luck in Melbourne but failed to obtain a license to drive, so they moved to Sydney.

Dolan’s star was soon on the rise. He won the Sydney Apprentices Premiership, led Group 1 winners on Profondo (Spring Champion Stakes) and Shelby Sixtysix (The Galaxy), appeared on The Voice and just released his first single.

Hennessy had to wait 18 months to obtain permanent residency before she was allowed to drive, but is now making up for lost time.

The Big Dance is the most important contest he has participated in so far in his fledgling career, but the apprentice will be looking to stick to his usual race day routine on Saturday.

“I’ll be as prepared as possible. I’ll go to work on the track in the morning, go home, get ready and go to the races, “she said.

But Hennessy, who is now an apprentice to head coach Annabel Neasham, has no plans to follow Dolan’s career path: “I can’t keep a tune!”

Hennessy also wants to compete against another turf giant in Chris Waller, the Hall of Fame coach of aspiring The Big Dance Aleas, Quality Time and Wicklow.

Waller said Aleas, in hindsight, should have kept the gelding on the cool side or The Big Dance and not perform it in the Five Diamonds Prelude two weeks ago.

“But the horse is doing well, has the right shape lines and this is a $ 2 million run,” Waller said.

Quality Time was beaten by a spot as a favorite in the Rosehill Gold Cup last Saturday and Waller is undecided whether to back him on Tuesday.

“I’m not sure he will race,” Waller said. “If he doesn’t race on Tuesday, he will race in the Five Diamonds on Saturday.”

The champion coach was particularly optimistic about Wicklow’s chances in the inaugural Big Dance.

“I have a soft spot for this horse,” said Waller of Wicklow.

“It has 52 kg but the barrier makes it difficult. But they say that from the start of the mile in Randwick they can win from anywhere.

“He has class and a light weight, and he will go home.”

The final word to Waller on Dettori – and it seems Hennessy wasn’t the only person in Rosehill last Saturday to leave the stars after meeting the jockey.

“I was impressed with Frankie, it was a real pleasure to have him at Rosehill last Saturday,” said Waller.

“Frankie is a class act and everyone was admired by him.

“The feedback he gives you is really special and I was honored to have driven him for my team.”

Originally released as apprentice Ellen Hennessy left “star-struck” as she prepares to ride against Frankie Dettori in Big Dance