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ALL MAJOR sporting organisations should put measures in place to ensure the emergence and growth of young athletes. Call them what you like – schools, camps, clinics, or competitions – these nurseries allow for the continuation of sporting disciplines. In Barbados, the normal path for the development of young athletes is through the primary and secondary school systems, with the aid of the National Sports Council.Little attention These programmes work with varying levels of success, whether the sport involved is cricket, football or track and field, to name a few. Horse racing, however, is one sport where little attention is being paid to the development of a set of the major players – the jockeys. The Barbados Turf Club (BTC) is in danger of seeing the future of horse racing “pulled up” unless it gets the jockeys’ school off and riding again.With the plan to have the introduction of night racing, as outlined by BTC president Sir David Seale, as part of the widening of Barbados’ tourism product, surely someone must realise that there is a dearth of top-class jockeys at the Garrison Savannah.ShortageThis shortage is causing headaches for trainers and owners alike, and those around the sport of kings can sense that there is need for urgent attention, or else the horse might bolt.Horse racing needs stars, not only of the equine type, but the skilled partner aboard, and it is for this reason that we need to have the jockeys’ school reopened and restructured in a way to benefit the sport of racing on one hand, and the country on the other.Barbados has produced a plethora of top riders, and surely names like Challenor Jones, Venice Richards, and Sonia Perkins still spring to mind among many. We have continued to create top jockeys, but in recent years – and this year in particular – we have lost those jockeys to greener pastures and the effect can be seen on the racing operations of principals like Lord Michael Taylor, Aysha Syndicate, Sir Charles Williams, Sir David Seale, and Gay Smith, to name but a few.Surely, it is a good thing that a country the size of Barbados can provide the world with the fantastic talents of seven-time Canada Sovereign Award winner Patrick Husbands. Many others ply their trade across Canada, and Quincy Welch and Ricky Walcott are two other champions displaying how much indigenous talent we have on this tropical paradise.TalentAt the same time, the BTC has an obligation to the local racing fraternity to make sure their needs are met. In the jockey school, we could supply international talent, and have adequate resources at home.One trainer has lamented the lack of quality jockeys and foresees a disaster to the industry if it is not checked immediately.Another specified a lack of basic training and knowledge about horses and equipment displayed among the fledgling horsemen.Current trainers also think problems such as indiscipline and riders being overweight can be things of the past once the school is in full effect. There might be a good case to be made for adding enterprise and business studies, and public speaking to the courses at the school, since the boundaries of a jockey are expanding day by day.Anderson Trotman is one of two full-fledged jockeys that trainers have available. It places great pressure on the trainer, horse and its chances especially having to carry overweight with apprentices, but what other choice does the trainer have other than to run/scratch the horse?First opened The jockey school directed by Richard Deane first opened in 1995, for a period of eight months. Some of the first graduates were Renaldo Cumberbatch, Quincy Welch, Paul Leacock, and Juan Crawford. Crawford and Leacock went on to become champion jockeys. The school then re-opened in 2002 and produced several champion apprentices, the likes of Jonathan Grant, Kenny John and Antonio Bishop, among others. The main handicap of the jockey school was insufficient funding.Barbados has no fewer than 18 jockeys competiting on the Canadian circuit, with the latest to join being Chris Husbands.Trainers have expressed frustration of working tirelessly with the horses to get them fit and ready and can’t find a proper jockey to put on them.The time has come to build up an institution for the future of our young men and women. We should not miss this opportunity.