Is there an apprentice meltdown trend?

Horse Racing

Is there an apprentice meltdown trend?

Friday, January 17, 2020

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There seems to be a trend developing of apprentices riding winner after winner when they first hit the race track, then suddenly disappearing from the winners' enclosure when the claiming allowance or “bug” is no more.

Then there are questions about weight maintenance and sometimes attitude that influence success or failure for these young lads.

Let's take time to analyse the situation as it presents itself.

The apprentice cohort that produced Linton Steadman, Bebeto Harvey, Ruja Lahoe, Oneil Scott, Anthony Thomas, Dane Dawkins, Hakeem Pottinger, Odeen Edwards, among others started well.

Steadman, Edwards, Harvey, Dawkins, and to a lesser extent Pottinger were the headliners with a fierce battle for the leadership role involving the first three mentioned.

Steadman proved his worth when he rode enough winners to claim the top apprentice status. Harvey could be seen quite often as if flying in the saddle while flaying his whip as if in a circus.

Dawkins was steady, going about his business, so too Pottinger while in the initial stages, Thomas, Scott, Oneil Beckford, and others were having difficulties mounting up on winners.

Steadman, as the leader of the class, got attached and probably still is a part of the high-powered barn of now champion trainer, Anthony Nunes.

In time, Steadman started to struggle with his weight, thereby making it less attractive to obtain winning rides or is now the case any rides at all. With the weight issues plus the loss of his claiming allowance, Steadman is now rarely an occupant of the winners' enclosure. The same holds for both Harvey and Edwards, who are today seldom seen on horses in competitive races.

Lahoe, truth be told, was injured early in his career and has not shown much since, while Dawkins has improved and is still among the better riders around at the Park.

While Steadman, Harvey and Edwards were dominating, the likes of Thomas, Scott and Beckford were playing catch-up. After the former three lost their “bug”, the downward slide started, and other apprentices began to come to the fore.

While still carrying their “bug”, Thomas especially began to display real riding talent, with Scott and Beckford holding their own. Over time, the latter two started to fade and are currently in and out.

Thomas grew from strength to strength to achieve the accolade of becoming champion jockey in 2018.

Even after losing his allowance, Thomas continues to be a dominant force in the present-day colony of jockeys, with Dawkins seemingly the only other major survivor of the batch under scrutiny in this article.

The hope now is that the present set — the batch that includes the current champion jockey Christopher Mamdeen along with Reyan Lewis, Kiaman McGregor, and Raddesh Roman — will be able to maintain their present consistency.

Don't be surprised if there is a meltdown with others like Anthony Allen and Daniel Satchell coming through to fill the breach, if only for a time.

Let's wait and see!

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