EDITORIAL: A way forward for local jockeys
It may seem like a small thing but the news that a likely agreement between the Canadian and Barbados governments could open the way for many more Barbadian jockeys to work on Canadian race tracks is a major development for our young men who are skilled in the management of horses and in the art of being professional jockeys.
It is significant because once again this country may be exporting its human capital in a manner which will provide good paying employment and if history and custom are any guide, will also mean increased remittances to family and relatives back here. So our country may benefit in two ways that are critical to our continued development. Employment is generated and foreign exchange earned.
Already some well known Barbadian jockeys have distinguished themselves in Canada and ply their trade at that country’s better known racecourses, and this outward looking approach in seeking employment is commendable.
At Woodbine track, which is Canada’s most prestigious track, Patrick Husbands who broke the news about the developments is a household name. It was he who was contacted by the Canadian Government in what is regarded as the initial indication that a deal might be done. As a sort of unofficial ambassador himself, he is a shining example of how professional skill of his sort can be used in a larger country to earn oneself a comfortable living.
In many respects the smaller Barbadian market does not afford such larger opportunities and it is just as well that these young men have the ambition to market their skills in a larger economic environment where entertainment and sport are established and well paying professions.
In a slightly different but related context our international star Rihanna has done the same thing. Like Patrick Husbands she has pitched her star way beyond Barbados and she has succeeded as he has in proving that local talent is just as good as their international counterparts so long as the playing field is level.
It seems that no work permit, no green card, or no kind of documentation of the usual immigration type would be needed. But Barbadians have so distinguished themselves that they may be in demand, particularly as jockeys.
Mr Husbands also tells us of Rico Walcott and Terry Husbands – two other local jockeys who have already made the journey up north, and who have won championship titles at the Northlands Park and Fort Erie racecourses, and he cites this domination of two of the four major racecourses along with his second place this year at Woodbine as proof of the worth and demand for Barbadian jockeys.
With 900 Jamaicans and 400 Trinidadians working in the horse racing industry in Canada, and only 180 to 200 Barbadians, it seems that there is scope not only for jockeys but for other positions ancillary to the professional jockey.
This news is also welcome for the message that it sends to young Barbadians that there are many and varied lucrative ways of making a living in the global market place beyond the traditional first choices.
Young Barbadians must continue to think outside the confines of this country. We have to become more outward thinking and regard the entire world as our market, whatever the skill, profession or trade in which we are engaged.
Rihanna and Shontelle have shown us the way in show business and in their field of sports and entertainment our skilled horsemen are charting their course with industry and pride. We commend them all.