MANY thought he was done and dusted. Many thought he lacked the riding acumen he once so elegantly displayed over the many years he graced the racetrack.
Well turn back the years, renew the thinking, Winston 'Fanna' Griffiths still has sufficient in the tank to demonstrate what good race-riding is still all about.
His performance on Sweet Trail, over 1,200 metres in an Overnight Allowance race, was not only memorable, but brilliant and a lesson, especially to the youngsters, that a jockey can win without excessive use of the whip.
Entering the straight and getting the lead, Sweet Trail was headed by Sir South under Aaron Chatrie on the outside, but lo and behold, Griffiths was able to conjure a response, constantly using his left hand while 'fanning' away with his right. To say the performance brought the house down is an understatement. All race fans enjoyed this moment of excellence, while the ardent Griffiths supporters found new voice to extol the virtues of 'Fanna', who is one of the best reins-man ever to mount a horse at our racetrack.
The manner in which Griffiths won on Sweet Trail, without undue use of the whip, again brings forward the question as to whether or not the Jamaican racing jurisdiction should have specific rules governing the use of whips, even the number of times a jockey uses his whip in a race. Allied to these specific rules should be the relevant penalties, strong but fair. This issue will be explored further next week in a separate article, especially as it relates to the new apprentices. These young riders again displayed their worth with Renardo McNaughton riding his second winner, while Orlando Foster and Orayne Sewell were first-time winners.
Griffiths was not the only jockey of yesteryear to ride into the winner's enclosure. Everton 'Killer' Miller, another favourite with punters but who is on and off the saddle over the years usually battling with weight, found his touch on Saturday. Riding Stepping Razor in section one of the featured Donald Tankoy Trophy event over 1,300 metres for three-year-old maiden fillies, Miller brought the Howard McLeod-owned and trained filly from mid-pack with a well-judged run to win going away.
Understandably, Miller's smile was wide and effusive on his return to the zone of winners. Good to see trainer McLeod, a journeyman trainer, still being able to post winners. The feature race gave us a reminder of Don Tankoy, the long-time manager at Caymanas Track Limited. 'Sir Don', as he was affectionately known, was a man for all seasons. He was always the voice of conciliation in racing who readily guided others along the straight and narrow and was always one to impart knowledge. This race in his honour is a fitting tribute to one who really served the industry well.
No review of last Saturday's race meet can be complete without reference to the triple landed by champion trainer Wayne DaCosta. The champion started with a runaway win by Fortuneonehundred (Dane Nelson) in the two-year-old race, followed by the 7-1 upsetter Remember Me, ridden by Dick Cardenas who was also aboard MyFriendLucy, as the trainer closed his three-timer.
Please note the riding assignments — Nelson, Cardenas, Cardenas. It seems a trend is developing where the 'tradition' of jockeys being tied to a particular trainer is slowly going away. This writer is watching with keen interest as this apparent new phenomenon unfolds.
For now, DaCosta has taken what many think is an unassailable lead in the race for the championship. Let us watch.