Horse Racing

The lot of outriders

Quntom Kepple talks about the pros and cons of the job

BY RUDDY ALLEN
Observer staff reporter

Friday, September 15, 2017

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The job of outrider at Caymanas Park involves maximum contact with horses. Outriders must possess excellent riding skills, a keen understanding of how horses behave, and a very good knowledge of all aspects of the racetrack.

Outriders are responsible for maintaining a safe environment at the track during morning workouts and live racing, and must ensure that the horses make it to the starting gates safely and on time before the start of each race. Their presence at the track is critical, even outside of race days.

Quntom Kepple, one of two outriders currently plying their trade at Caymanas Park, emphasised that outriders have to be calm, must have physical strength, must be brave, and must be assiduous in carrying out their tasks in order to achieve success. The other outrider currently sharing duties with Kepple is Ricardo 'Okra' Ewer.

“Our job as outriders is not as easy as it may look to many people. Sometimes it is very difficult because the horses – especially the problematic ones and the two-year-olds who are racing for the first time – are very difficult to handle.

“But as long as you get to understand the whole system, it becomes easier. You have to have guts to deal with some of these horses. There is a lot of risk involved, and if you are not brave you are going to get into trouble,” Kepple pointed out.

In addition to leading horses to the starting gates, chasing down horses who bolt, chasing down early starters, and sounding the alarm to report rider injury on a race day, the 37-year-old Kepple said that there is much more to his job. While performing the same tasks in the mornings, he also oversees the exercise routines and exercises horses himself.

“On race days, our job is to take the horses down to the starting gates, making sure that they reach there safely. Most of the time, we take the horses that are known to give problems down to the gates before the others.

“In the mornings, we do the same thing and bring the horses to the starting gates for their exercise periods. We also exercise horses for trainers as well. We have a good understanding of the animals in terms of their behaviour, and so some of the trainers will call on us to work their horses in the mornings. I work with trainer Ian Parsard and I exercise his horses in the mornings,” Kepple told the Supreme Racing Guide.

Even though becoming an outrider wasn't his first choice of profession in the racing industry, Kepple says that he has no regrets with how things have turned out for him.

“I have been in the racing industry for seven years now. It has been good so far, as I have been around horses for some time now and it's fun. I mean, I am enjoying myself as an outrider.

“Becoming a jockey was [actually] my first choice as a profession in the racing industry, but weight issues really hampered me; because I love horses, when I got the offer as an outrider I just took it,” Kepple declared with a smile.

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