They say the world spins on its axis, therefore things especially life are never constant variables, they are always changing. This principle of change is never more evident than in the last six months or so with our leading jockeys and the stables they represent.
In the past, the leading riders in the land were attached to particular trainers. As such they had first choice from their particular barn and many jockeys' championships have been won by riders who had almost a guaranteed stock of base winners from their 'Governor's barns plus winners from among the others. Some jockeys were even paid fairly attractive retainer fees to ensure their services were always available.
One can readily remember the associations of Winston Griffiths with Phillip Feanny, Winston 'Mero"' Ellis with Laurie Silvera, Andrew Ramgeet with Wayne DaCosta, Shane Ellis with Anthony Nunes, Omar Walker with Wayne DaCosta, Dick Cardenas with Richard Azan, Dane Nelson with Wayne DaCosta and Cardenas with Nunes, among others.
Now there appears to be a change in the modus operandi of riders. It is not unusual; in fact it has become the norm, to see on recent race programmes, Cardenas riding for DaCosta with Nunes having a live mount in the same race or Nelson who is supposed to be the standard bearer for DaCosta riding another horse in a race in which a DaCosta horse is certain to contend.
But why the change? It seems that our leading riders have become more independent and are no longer enamored with just sticking with one-main trainer. One may also point to the situation where riders have to because of a particular association, ride horses which have little or no chance in a race when it is possible for their agents to secure winning mounts from outside in the same race. Riding primarily for one trainer has its ups and downs. The good side of the equation is that riders are assured of the majority of winners from his trainer, while on the flip side they are often confined to their 'Governor's' barn with little room in which to manoeuvre.
In the big races, for example, the Classics, riders now want to explore, instead of being tied down. It's all about independence and the chance of earning more money. No problem with that at all. However, the loss of a bulk amount of winners can have a major impact on the fortunes of riders. A jockey and his agent must now convince a trainer that the jockey in question is best to ride a particular horse in a particular race. The trainers now have more choices as the association tag has been removed. Simply put trainers can pick, choose and refuse who they want to partner their horses, given conditions of the race and weight allotment.
This new and developing situation certainly opens the field of choices and opportunities which can make for interesting racing and the possibility of jockeys' agents scrambling more to secure rides for their bosses. This situation will be watched keenly.