Cousins 'Chips' Richards, 'Bimbo' Rodriquez revel in national recognition


Cousins 'Chips' Richards, 'Bimbo' Rodriquez revel in national recognition

By Howard Campbell
Observer writer

Monday, October 19, 2020

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THE house at 4 Clovelly Road has special meaning for Anthony “Chips” Richards and Emilio “Bimbo” Rodriguez.

The cousins, who are recipients at today's National Honours and Awards ceremony, spent their formative years at that address.

Richards, a music industry executive in the United Kingdom for many years, will receive a Badge of Honour for service to that sector. Rodriguez, a four-time champion jockey of Jamaica, is being recognised with the Order of Distinction for contribution to thoroughbred racing.

“Wi tight! Tight like brothers,” said Richards, whose mother Gloria Taylor is the older sister of Rodriguez's mother, Lorraine. “When I got the news [about his award] I texted Bimbo and said, 'I wish you were getting one too.' In about two hours, he called and told me he was getting an award.”

Rodriguez, who rode in the United States after leaving Jamaica in 1989, said he is “overwhelmed” at being awarded Jamaica's sixth-highest honour.

“Words cannot express. I'm in the class of the big boys...that's how I feel,” he said.

Because of the novel coronavirus Richards, who lives in London, and Rodriquez, who is based in Atlanta, would have been unable to attend the ceremony which was scheduled for King's House. The Government has announced a scale-down of the annual event due to the pandemic.

Lorraine Rodriguez is the lone survivor of five children born to Albert and Olive Taylor. She lives in Philadelphia.

When the Taylor family moved from Clovelly Road the home became Kingston Champion Gym, where top sportsmen like boxer Bunny Grant trained.

At the time Richards moved to the UK in the mid-1960s, Rodriguez became an apprentice to trainer Fitz Crawford at Caymanas Park. When Richards was busy making Ken Boothe's Everything I Own a number one song in the UK in 1975, his cousin won his first Derby with Tudor Wit for trainer Sydney Watson.

A decade later, while Richards was helping to introduce Jamaican music to the emerging African market, Rodriguez dominated Caymans Park with multiple stakes wins and jockey titles.

Bimbo, who also dabbled in music production, retired from the saddle in 2007. He considers his stretch battles with another OD recipient among his career highlights.

“I loved the rivalry with Winston Griffiths because it kept the punters and fans cheering for both of us. That was a fantastic time for me,” he stated.

Griffiths is a five-time champion jockey of Jamaica and the first to achieve 1,000 winners at Caymanas Park.

Emilio Rodriguez became an assistant trainer after retiring from riding. He has been out of thoroughbred racing since 2017, when he was injured after being kicked by a horse at Woodbine racetrack in Canada.

The cousins last saw each other in Philadelphia in 2019, but are in regular contact. They have come a long way from Clovelly Road.

“We come from a blessed heritage. Both of us were in the public domain doing different things, and to know we are being honoured by our country on the same day is a tremendous feeling,” said Richards.

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