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Jalon gets just deserts

Andi Thornhill

Jalon gets  just deserts

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Whatever for a man?he must get.
That familiar Bajan saying was exemplified with divine timing last Saturday at the Garrison Savannah.
Exactly a year ago, the 30th running of the Sandy Lane Gold Cup was bittersweet for teenaged riding sensation Jalon Samuel after he was disqualified from the winning spot, adjudged to have caused interference in the homestretch aboard Show Me The Money.
The challenge for him was to pick up the pieces and move on with his career.
It can be hard but with loyal people around to support you, that fall from grace can be pushed where it belongs and the rise to glory can begin.
There was a tremendous outpouring of support for Samuel with the general feeling being that he could have been given a chance.
There was interference for sure, which came through the jockey’s youthful exuberance of being within yards and seconds of achieving the most prestigious victory of his career. However, I believe most objective pundits agreed that the animals Show Me The Money left in his wake in the last furlong were well beaten and couldn’t answer in the affirmative when asked a question.
The public empathy may have been one of the factors which kept Samuel on track and restored his faith that all was not lost and that with time on his side there would be plenty of opportunities to capture another Gold Cup. But who truly knows what the future holds but God?
In fact, it appeared as if another hurdle was placed in Samuel’s path to test his character when it became public knowledge that he had broken ranks with the powerful Lord Michael Taylor stable and had become a freelance rider.
The strength and depth of the Taylor stable should guarantee any stable jockey at least one win every race day, notwithstanding the variables associated with horse racing.
So in this regard many surmised that Samuel had lost a big pick.
However, it would seem he found divine favour again because his stakes went up in neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago and his skills were in high demand there. It climaxed with victory in the highly ranked Stewards Cup late last year.
One of the things we may want to glean from Samuel’s experiences to date is that he is a big day man. The bigger the event the more confident he becomes. The lad has swagger and precocious talent to back it up.
I remember him telling me on the eve of last year’s Gold Cup that he did not fear any jockey in the world despite their achievements. He went on to prove his point.
To be honest, I think it was incredible that Samuel wasn’t found worthy to have a guaranteed mount in this year’s event, even despite what seemed to have been a mending of fences with the Taylor barn.
You would think that he would have been offered the mount on Show Me The Money but outstanding jockey Patrick Husbands was given the leg up instead.
The 18-year-old was actually on the reserve list in waiting with Dancin David who eventually got in the race after Mignun Temple was withdrawn. Another instance of divine intervention perhaps, but the trend didn’t end there.
The heavenly showers throughout the week may have also set it up nicely for Samuel and Dancin David, because with a firm track I believe Show Me The Money and Apostle or even last year’s elevated victor Zoom may have found greater favour with race fans.
The rest is now history. Samuel was gloriously redeemed with a well-timed ride.
And what was also ironic is that the jockey, Anderson Trotman, who was at the fore of last year’s protest against him, was now beside him being led in simultaneously after placing second on John Brian for the Sir David Seale connections.
There were many more tears this year even from Sir David.
The major difference is that the joy they represented was not erased by a decision made at the discretion of the stewards.
Samuel kept a straight course in a year that presented many a testing turn.
Again, his story is a timely reminder that when God is for you no man can be against you.
He simply delivers his blessings in his own sweet, measured time. Samuel saw it manifested on Gold Cup Day.
• Andi Thornhill is an award-winning freelance sports journalist.