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47, including 5 females, begin quest to become jockeys

Observer staff reporter

Friday, January 12, 2018

Despite pelting rain, the quest to find the next champion jockey started on Wednesday last for 47 youngsters, including five young ladies, at Caymanas Park. The popular gate test was organised by the Jamaica Racing Commission (JRC), administrators of the jockeys' programme. The gate test procedure allows the JRC's operation stewards to make a final assessment of the applicants, after which a final cohort is chosen for inclusion in the actual training programme.

The young ladies Abigail Able, Tamicka Lawrence, Tanya Cooper, Samantha Fletcher and Kerry-Ann Walker showed up for the gate test and two, Able and Lawrence shared their thoughts.

Able, from the stables of Rowan Mathie, believes she passed the first stage in becoming a jockey.

“Well, first of all, I felt a little bit nervous, but when I got into the starting gates everything was smooth and calm and I had a very good trip.

“It was was quite an experience for me. I think I did well. I have the weight and I can ride and I am willing to learn. I think this is my jig, and I believe that I will get through,” said the 21-year-old Able.

Lawrence expressed confidence with her performance.

“It was fantastic. Most [people] expected me to fail, and that's why I had to go out there and put my all into it. I think I did great, and it felt really great as well.

“I love boys' stuff. From I was a little girl growing up, my father always had problems with me being around the boys.

“I tried hair, nails, massage, make-up and all the other girls' stuff and they all seemed boring, but [horse racing] presents a challenge. Every horse is his own individual and every horse needs different attention. I am confident that I can get through,” declared the 26-year-old Lawrence, who is at the Anthony Nunes stable.

Jockey Shane Ellis, who was one of the examiners, gave his assessment of the young riders.

“Well, these young riders need more schooling right now. Some of them were good (they passed), but with time they will be better.

“ The gate test is very important because if you don't know how to break a horse it doesn't make any sense to give them the opportunity to get into the school. You have to know how to break a horse, so the gate test is very critical and very important,'' said Ellis, who is the president of the Jockey Guild.