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‘Swagga’ boy makes his mark

Lindon Yarde

‘Swagga’ boy makes his mark

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Antonio “Swagga” Whitehall is the newest young riding sensation to garner attention at the Garrison Savannah.
The 18-year-old apprentice, a former Parkinson Secondary School student, has enjoyed a tremendous run since he was granted his licence back in January 2011. In a brief and fledgling career he has taken a similar course as former champion jockey Jalon Samuel who rode out his apprenticeship in just over two years.
Like Samuel, Whitehall has taken a liking to the Santa Rosa Race Track in Arima, Trinidad and Tobago, to expand his skills and natural talent where he is presently third in the standings on nine wins from 34 mounts.
With his incredible potential it came as no surprise when Whitehall was quickly snapped up by racing magnate Sir Charles Williams to perform the role of first call rider. He was also recommended to renowned Trinidadian owner Harold Chadee who is currently second in that country’s owners’ championship table.
The youngster first tasted success on June 25 aboard the Wild Cat Stable-owned and Boston John-trained Queen Of Hearts in the Feet On Flames Condition Race over 1 570 metres.
He has kept his name very much in the spotlight with frequent visits to the winner’s enclosure, amassing 40 wins – 24 on home soil and 16 at Arima.
His 40th victory was recorded last Wednesday at Santa Rosa Park where he piloted the Barbadian-bred Harold Chaddee-owned Angelica Jane to victory in a race for three-year-olds rated 42-25 over 1 100 metres on a sloppy track. With that win he became a three-pound claimer.
With the jockey’s room more heavily populated with apprentice riders than jockeys compared to the past, Whitehall emerged Champion Apprentice and Jockey in the just concluded first season for 2012; thus setting the tone for a remarkable year with greater expectations.
Topping the list of his successes to date is his victory aboard Sir Charles’ filly Kendal Moon when they cantered home in this year’s Tanglewood Stakes & Trophy over 2 000 metres.
Prior to his outstanding win in the aforementioned race, January 2012 proved most gratifying as he first landed a treble on January 14 at Santa Rosa Park booting home Angelica Jane, Smart American and It Got To Be Me for Chadee.
He then scored a quadruple win on Errol Barrow Day.
Between The Sheiks started the proceedings by taking the
Guest Of Honour Handicap for horses rated 25-50 over 1 100 metres.
Next was the victory aboard Vapour Trail in the Loan Ranger Condition Race Division-A over 1 000 metres. The speedy and improving colt Shared Adventure made it win number three in the Jim Davis Condition race over 1 100 metres.
Whitehall then racked up his fourth win on that memorable day as his piloted home Boo in the Wild Love Handicap Division A for horses rated 0-45 over 1 100 metres.
He has showcased good skills, he is a natural light weight and possesses nice feet, a soft pair of hands and the reflexes required to go with the horses to the top of this fantastic sport.