Oh God, this is it — apprentice Kawise Gentle


Oh God, this is it — apprentice Kawise Gentle

…after riding his first winner on Twilight Storm

Observer writer

Friday, January 24, 2020

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Kawise Gentle, a 28-year-old claiming apprentice from the last batch of graduates, became the fifth member of that cohort to open his winning account.

Gentle did so after piloting the Carl Anderson-bred, owned, and trained Twilight Storm to victory in the fifth race at Caymanas Park on Saturday (January 18).

Twilight Storm was neglected in the betting at odds of 178-1 in a $250,000 - $200,000 claiming spread event. This race was run over seven furlongs (1,400 metres).

Gentle was on his second ride since graduating in September of 2019 and his first in 2020.

“I am at a loss for words to express how I feel. But it is a very nice feeling and it gives me an encouraging start on my way to become a good professional rider, which is what I have always aspired to become,” said Gentle, who hails from the Clifton area of Bernard Lodge on the Old Port Henderson Road in St Catherine.

“I was excited when I looked to my left and my right and did not see anybody, and I said to myself, 'oh God, this is it'. Still, I was not sure as I did not have the confidence, but that confidence came when I went by the three-furlong marker. The horse accelerated, and I said to myself 'there is much more in the tank', but I remember the trainer saying to me, wait until you come into the straight before moving as the horse is not sound.

“I waited until my mount straightened for the drive, then I looked to both sides again and did not see any danger and then I started to ride for the wire. I then felt so great to know this is my first win,” an elated Gentle said in his post-race interview.

The young man revealed his innermost thoughts about the win.

“After the win, I reflected on some of the embarrassing talk that I got from people who were saying that I will never win a race, as I will never be good enough at this jockey thing and will have to find employment elsewhere. This win gives me the courage and motivation to go much harder. At present, I feel great to recognise that there is reward in effort,” Gentle added.

He also shared how he got involved in the sport of horse racing.

“When I was going to primary school I joined Mr Anderson more around the breeding farm. Then one day I jumped on one of the horses, and it felt nice and I said to myself, 'I think I want to become a jockey', and from that moment on, that became my passion and sole ambition.

“I then moved closer to the track when I started to attend Waterford High. That was about from Grade 8, and from then I began to visit regularly after school and on weekends. It was then I got the chance to jump on horses like Steel The Cat and English Storm.

“One day, Steel The Cat bolted off the ring with me and the feeling grew stronger to become a jockey. But the trainer said to me you are going to be too tall and your weight is going to give you a fight. He was not wrong, for my weight is giving me a fight. But because of my passion to become a jockey I am prepared to learn the basics by putting in the hard work to be comfortable riding racehorses,” he said.

Gentle added: “What motivated me most in my venture is O'Brien White. He is a jockey who hails from the same community as I did and was also a former champion apprentice. He inspired me to carry on my dream after seeing the ups and downs which he faced, but still fought his way through with his weight problem to become a champion apprentice.”

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