NINETEEN apprentices graduated from the Jamaica Racing Commission's (JRC) 2012 six-month Jockey Training School last Thursday at a ceremony at the Commission's Winchester Road offices.
The former exercise riders received their certificates for successfully completing the course and are now eligible to commence race riding as at September 8, 2012.
Twenty-two-year-old Holando Butler gave the valedictory speech and looking back from where he and his fellow graduates have progressed, he was forthright in his observation.
"At the beginning of the course, six months seemed like forever. But in time we realised it was actually just a hiccup, as we have all come a long way in a short time and while we've had some good times the best is yet to come."
He added: "The first day of school is still fresh in my memory. Many of us were not too sure of what to expect when we entered the programme, some were nervous, others were perhaps a bit over-confident, but our aim was to be successful.
"During the short space of time we learned to rely on our inner strength, that there is not always an easy solution and whatever the situation is if we persevere, we can go on," offered the Clarendon native, who received high praise for his work ethic.
In addition to Butler, the others who are now certified to ply their trade legally as apprentices are Sadiki Blake, Damion Brown, Rajiv Chatrie, Orlando Foster, Marc Griffiths, Prince Holder, Jemar Jackson, Ruja Lahoe, Renardo McNaughton, Zac Meikle, Shamaree Muir, Ryan Nelson, Kuri Powell, Davidan Robinson, Romario Saunders, Oryane Sewell, Omar Simpson and O'Brien White.
The completion of the course was a joint effort from the JRC, which partnered with Caymanas Track Limited, Kingston Polo Club and Gregory Park Primary School.
Among the tutors and providers was Operation Steward Desmond Riley, who acted as course co-ordinator, along with Ina Lawrence, the apprentice master who doubled as administrator.
Veterinary surgeon Dr Sophia Ramlal lectured on equine anatomy; Angela Mitchell on academics; Patricia Thompson on nutrition; Make Your Mark Consultants and J Elaine Chaplin on personal development; Susan Wates on basic riding; Father Paul Collier on counselling; former champion jockey Emelio Rodriguez on race riding; George's Rehab Centre & Gym on personal fitness; Corinne Stockhausen on natural horsemanship; Donovan Phillips was caterer/concessionaire and Steadman Curtis was responsible for transportation.