Horse Racing

What They Say: SHANE ELLIS — Racehorse jockey

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

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When did you start your career as a jockey?

I am from Purple Island in Westmoreland and there were stables there, so as a kid, I was allowed to visit these stables from time to time and after a while I became familiar to horses from a tender age. My father was a jockey but that was not the sole reason why I wanted to become one. Far from it, as my mother was the instrument and main influence behind the move. She just wanted me to become a jockey. I came into racing working with Perline Dwyer, Patrick Lynch among others, and this electrified my enthusiasm for me to begin to take a greater interest in the trade of learning horse riding techniques and other handling skills that I later discovered can only come from conscious and diligent application. When I went around to Kenneth Mattis, I started to work with him and his son Kevin. Kevin Mattis was the one who really took me in as a brother and I was given the task to work all his horses and we were winning a number of races. Just around that time the Jockey School opening was coming up and I enrolled. I did my tour of duty at learning the finer points of the craft at the school and eventually graduated in April of 1996 in a batch of 15 other apprentices.

Which horse was your first winner?

The first race I won after receiving my apprentice licence was with a horse by the name of Award The Star. This was an apprentice race.

Which horse was your longest odds winner?

My longest odds winner was aboard Delay The Game. That was a memorable one for me. At the time I was on 99 wins and my 100th winner was on a 99-1 shot.

Which is the best horse that you have ridden in Jamaica?

For me, that is between two middle-distance horses, Saint Cecelia and Ronron.

Which is the best horse you've seen run at Caymanas Park?

Well there are quite a few who have had a lasting effect on me because of their performances at the time. Blumenthal was one, then there is Menudo, Mark My Word is another, and as a little boy, I saw Royal Dad and Legal Light. In more modern times there is Saint Cecelia and you cannot leave out another filly, She's A Maneater. This filly has done everything that was asked of her and she responded with class by winning the Triple Crown and lost only one race at between two and three-years-old. There was also Eros as a top-class sprinter who still holds the record for 1,200 metres at 1:092 carrying 57.0 kgs as a six-year-old in 1993.

Who influenced your career most in becoming a jockey?

My mother was my greatest influence. She did everything towards me becoming a jockey. She even found ways and means of me shedding weight to make the weight when it was compulsory for me to make a specific target by putting me in a barrel and throwing clothes on me for a given time and while in that barrel, she would say to me, if you feel like you are stifling don't be afraid to call, for I will have an open ear.

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