MCCALL GETTING CLOSE UP AND PERSONAL

English-born jockey Eilish McCall will keep her date with group winner Close Up at Ellerslie Saturday.

Claimer McCall, 25, was to ride him a month or so back to  take some weight off his ageing back but the horse suffered a stone bruise and was scratched.

When McCall saw his weight for Saturday’s race (62kg) she didn’t hesitate to call trainer Shelley Hale.

Hale honoured the commitment and McCall was booked.

“I’ve never sat on him before but I’ve been getting lots of advice on how I should ride him,” said McCall, who has been in New Zealand for three years now and has no plans to return to England to live.

“It’s a big thrill. Can’t wait.”

McCall will also ride the very smart Swisswatch for her boss Shaune Ritchie as well as rough prospect August Edition.

“I’m the only one who rides Swisswatch in trackwork,” she said.

She rode him fresh-up but got caught wide and finished fourth. He won next up with Jason Waddell aboard.

McCall, who has had six wins in New Zealand, realises Ritchie is using her claim to improve his competitiveness but she doesn’t care. She’s just thrilled to get the opportunity.

McCall came to New Zealand after spotting an advert for a Ready to Run sales rider. She applied, got the job and the trainer flew her here.

She then took up the apprenticeship with Ritchie, who, unlike many other trainers, is not  afraid to use apprentices.

Though keen to improve her riding, McCall won’t be accepting any rides in a year’s time. She will be marrying  Kiwi Jamie Bragg.

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