They are a breath of fresh air in the sultry gloom that often hovers over racing these days.
Since September 8, when the new batch of apprentices made their debut, they have simply dominated the track with their bravado, their penchant for riding winners and their sheer effervescent. The trainers are playing their part by willingly giving them the rides they so covet and need to showcase their talent and to build their futures.
Last Saturday they simply dominated. Six of the 10 races contested on the day were taken by the apprentices with Renardo McNaughton and Orlando Foster riding doubles. The other apprentices winning on the day were Ruja Lahoe and Kuri Powell. The riding performance which caught the attention of race-goers belonged to Foster. Riding the 99-1 chance Whistling Jet for trainer Anthony Nunes, in a 1,100-metre maiden three-year-old event from the number one post position, the young rider kept his mount on the rails throughout the event even though outsped from the off. He never lost his cool and while the other riders chose to go wide at the turn on a sloppy track, Foster kept going on the shortest route possible to the winning post and got up in time to win by a widening half-a-length.
Well done to the lads, but again caution from this writer. The Jamaica Racing Commission must continue to monitor their progress in order to curtail swell headedness which is sure to arise from especially those who enter the winner's enclosure regularly. The JRC has done very well thus far and kudos is generously given to their team, however, swell-headedness is a common affliction and nipping this ailment in the bud is essential to the youngsters. On the other side, those apprentices not riding winners should not be abandoned. They too need monitoring and if necessary, counseling to boost confidence.
"Yu think mi did done" is the popular refrain from an Admiral Bailey hit of yesteryear. That line was never truer than on Saturday for former many times trainer Philip Feanny, dubbed 'The Maestro', as he produced 4-1 shot Alison for a rather facile win in the 1,100-metre Keeling Memorial Stakes for two-year-olds. Never far off the lead from the start, Alison moved away impressively over the last furlong and a half to score by six lengths.
These days Feanny is not the force he was in the 1980s and 1990s, preferring instead to concentrate his main effort in breeding quality horses at the HAM Stables. That he has succeeded in this exercise is not surprising with HAM on course for yet another Breeders' Championship. But every now and again, 'The Maestro' reminds of his training prowess and the victory of Alison was such an occasion.
Not to be outdone on the day, champion trainer Wayne DaCosta was the top conditioner with two wins — Imperial Fortune and Kal Kal. Kal Kal seems to be developing nicely and we will be watching her development as she steps up to the Overnight Allowance Class.