Big day looms for Walcott
The Sandy Lane Gold Cup comes along every year, but this Saturday’s version could prove to be Rico Walcott’s biggest race day.
He has captured a hat-trick of riding titles at Northlands Park in Canada, won the Canadian and the Oklahoma Derby and was a lone ranger at his base last year with 153 wins for earningsof $2 288 314.
Securing the best strike percentage (32) of all riders in North America in 2013, he also achieved his first Breeders Cup ride at Santa Anita with Broadway Empire on whom he took the above mentioned derby.
His name hits the print and electronic media with great regularity. Great, unbelievable and earth shattering are few of the words which can be used to sum up the 25-year-old-jockey’s resume from last year.
In 2014, the stakes get even higher as he has been nominated for the April 11, 39th staging of the annual Sovereign Award for best jockey, competing again household names such as Luis Contreras, Euro Dasilva and Justin Stein.
But before that, his chances of winning his first ever Sandy Lane Barbados Gold Cup is in his hands alone as he partners the audacious Areutalkintome.
Fans watching him ride last year via satellite probably thought Walcott was riding on a different planet to his peers, so dominant was his 2013.
Partnering the Joseph brothers’ phenomenon Areutalkintome is nothing new to the lad from Brittons Hill as he has piloted him to eight of his 15 careers victories.
Including his 2009 Triple Crown success, Walcott went close to winning the Gold Cup in 2007 when he almost stole the race with the speedster Who’s Wavering, only to be denied by stablemate Whiskey For Me with his older brother Rickey Walcott in the stirrups. Some say you get better with age, but for the David Yearwood-trained horse, this will be his meanest test.
It is a miracle how Areutalkintome survived a horrifying incident toward the end of 2010. One of the most popular horses in the country, though being sidelined with that injury, he still stunned the Spa Sprint field of 2011.
Another injury was sustained in June 2012 in the Amstel Cup after which he broke down. He might have endured physical and mental scars but his toughness saw him overcome those adversities and go on to win three of his starts after a 14 month hiatus.
Fast and lightning quick can be used to describe his speed but should he bring joy to his connections and adoring fans on Saturday, Walcott will have to ride a spectacle of a race.
The other early challengers are likely to be Shared Adventure, the fastest horse in Barbados, Jakesam, and Trinidad and Tobago’s Nominee.
Saturday’s race can bring up thoughts of Walcott, Canada’s hottest rider last year versus, Sovereign Award genius Patrick Husbands.