WHAT THEY SAY: Norman Palmer - RACEHORSE JOCKEY/TRAINER

Friday, January 19, 2018

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When did you start your career as a trainer?

My career as a trainer started back in 1977, but I have been involved with horse racing longer than that. I started out as a jockey before I became a trainer. Trevor McKenzie, who was a champion jockey at Caymanas Park, brought me into racing, but I have always been around horses and horsemen from I was a young boy growing up in the community of Drewsland in St Andrew. McKenzie took me to trainer Allan 'Billy' Williams, and there it all began for me. That is where it started and that is where my love for horses grew, and slowly but surely, I started to learn and develop my skills by observing and watching closely.

Which horse was your first winner?

I won my first race as a jockey with Girl Guide. It was a very long time ago and I don't remember how I felt back then. It was some 40 years ago, but I would assume that I was a very happy man back then as victory is always sweet. As a trainer, my first winner was with M.I.T. At that time, I was feeling really good knowing that my training career got going. It was a long and sometimes difficult road for me, but winning my first race gave me hope and helped to ease some of the fears. Surely a day to remember.

Which horse was your longest odds winner?

As a jockey and as a trainer, I don't remember the longest odds I won at. Odds don't really matter to me at all. To me, it is winning races that really counts, and every time I win a race I am happy. But at times it is nice to win at long odds and upset other fancied horses. To me, winning races comes first and that has been the way I have always approached my profession as a trainer of racehorses and as a jockey as well. Winning is everything, to put it simply.

Which is the best horse you have trained?

I had Royal Lancaster. He was a very good horse and I really liked that one. He was a big horse, especially as a two-year-old at the time. I had some more good horses: Sheer Joy, who didn't stay long enough with me, Travelling Queen, who didn't stay long in the game but she was really good as well. I have had some nice horses over the years, but the one I like most is Royal Lancaster. As a jockey, it would have to be Reprieve from the famous Zaleucus – Caroline Park breeding line. Reprieve won the Jamaica Derby and many other big races to really establish himself at the time.

Which is the best horse you have seen race at Caymanas Park?

I have seen a lot of good horses. I can't really name one, but if I had to choose one, I would go for Legal Light, but I can't leave out Element. Those are the two big horses that I have seen run and really perform, plus they captured the interest and imagination of the punters. We all know about Legal Light and his wonderful record, but Element did not race a lot here and he turned out to be a really good stallion.

Who influenced your career the most?

As a trainer, it would be Allan 'Billy' Williams, and as a jockey, it would be Trevor McKenzie.

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