HOLANDO Butler, a 22 year-old Clarendonian with only two years of closer handling of thoroughbred animals, topped the Class of 2012 at the graduation ceremony of the Jamaica Racing Commission's (JRC) training programme last Thursday.
There is little wonder he did. Apart from being a hard worker and attentive student to the various aspects of the craft, he is attached to the high-powered stables of champion trainer Wayne DaCosta at the Caymanas Park Complex.
Boasting seven CXC passes from Garvey Maceo High, Butler always had his eyes fixed on a career in horseracing. After graduating from high school, however, his mother insisted he did some more subjects.
Off he went to Ebony Park HEART Academy where the interest grew even stronger as the "aspect of wanting to ride came into being. (There was) a horse farm there and I had the opportunity to sit upon horses."
Butler said that from there he got to know most things. "I wanted to know about horses as I got a lot of horseman teaching there. I started my first riding lessons at Ebony Park, but it was not like Caymanas Park where we use short stirrups," he said.
On the academic side, Butler did a Level One Certificate in livestock rearing. He was, however, spending a great deal of his spare time at the equine unit at Ebony Park and for his second year, completed a Level Two Course in veterinary science.
Butler said he really fell in love with horses and promised himself that one day he "will be a jockey and finally it is coming through".
His mother's wishes satisfied, young Butler was now better prepared to launch out on the challenge he set himself while in high school.
Not badly prepared theoretically to meet the demands of professional thoroughbred race riding, Butler's going to the stables of the champion was not purely by accident.
DaCosta, a 12-time champion trainer, outlined how it came into being.
"How the situation started was that my aunt knew him and she encouraged me to have a look at this guy who she says looks just like a jockey. He came to the stable one morning and I have been working with him since."
Asked about the young man's attitude and aptitude, DaCosta said: "Both are excellent. He never says no. He is always willing to work; even in dire times when rain is falling, he is always there.
"He is never absent from his work. We don't know how long that will last, but right now he is eager and ready and I sincerely hope that he does well. If he keeps his head and does well, in the interim the sky is the limited," DaCosta added.