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Race on for   jockeys title


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EXPERIENCE versus Youth. It appears very likely that race fans will have to wait until Boxing Day, to see who emerges champion jockey and champion apprentice for the Barbados Turf Club’s (BTC) 2010 season of racing. 
Former champion jockey Anderson “Tom” Trotman will have to draw on his 16 years’ experience in the saddle, to survive the spirited attack being launched by his more youthful rivals Jalon Samuel, Reshaun Latchman and Kenny John.
Sir Charles Williams’ first-call jockey for several years, Trotman can be rated the country’s No.1 rider at present, having had riding stints in Jamaica, Trinidad and Canada. He first became champion jockey in 1995, and has won the title in 1996, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008.
So far this year he has won 25 races from 126 rides for a useful strike rate of 20 per cent and earnings of $362 612. Trotman’s prize mount this season has been Mingun Temple, recent winner of the Kabul Handicap over 1 800 metres.
However, red-hot apprentice Samuels has been applying the pressure in the race for championship honours. The 16-year-old is second in the standings with 23 wins from 96 mounts and earnings of $319 812.
Recently contracted to the Blue Diamond Stables, Samuels has been in great demand, and has racked up an impressive strike rate of 24 per cent.
Samuels has taken very seriously to his chosen profession and looks the part.
He must pay close attention to his weight nonetheless as the declaration board has shown him picking up some overweight on his charges. As an apprentice, weight control is part and parcel of success.
Still there is no doubting his class, as was displayed on Show Me The Money in the Queen’s Plate going 1 800 metres.
Another budding apprentice Reshaun Latchman is third on 14 wins from 111 starts, with earnings of $206 341. His strike rate is a modest 13 per cent but he is riding with conviction, is very focused, and possesses the skills to be a future top jockey.
On any given Saturday afternoon, when one critiques the young horsemen, Latchman inspires confidence, and confirms that the sport is in good hands. He is well balanced in the saddle, has strong hands, and demonstrates the ability to use the whip with both hands; a skill lacking in most the other youngsters.
Latchman’s most celebrated win so far has been in the Directors’ Handicap over 1 800 metres, on Show Me The Money.
Kenny John is back in fourth with 11 wins from 110 starts, and his mounts have earned $192 297. He is only a few wins away from graduating to a full-fledged rider, and has the ability to improve on his ten per cent strike rate.
I expect more to come from young John when he drops the apprentice tag, as it should bring more aggression to his overall approach, which should pay dividends.
His most memorable moment of the year was the win aboard improving colt Rocamadour in the Val Gale Cup going 1 800 metres.
Special mention should be made of Panamanian-born Trinidad-based jockey Nobel Abrego, who has won three races from ten mounts but has earned $139 719, and clearly has a penchant for the big races.
With one day remaining to complete the second season, and the overseas-based riders due back for the start of the final season, the jockeys’ race for glory looks like it will go down to the wire, and excitement awaits all those who are willing to be part of the action.