To become a top jockey at Caymanas Park, the dreamer must successfully navigate the attending roller coaster ride.
But it does not stop there. When one gets past the apprentice stage, there is another challenge — getting regular rides and eking out a decent living.
Many aspiring reinsmen have come to learn that the saddle can provide a bumpy ride.
Naturally, many of the up-and-coming jockeys dream of becoming the next Emilio “Bimbo” Rodriquez, Winston “Fanna” Griffiths and Andrew Ramgeet.
But in this sport of a hardened competitive nature, many dreams don’t leave the proverbial starting gate.
It is true that struggling riders may have the opportunity to hone their skills on the exercise track, working out thorougbreds that they envision driving home past the post in a major race.
For some, the buck stops there.
Riding the excersie track does not bring home the bacon, it is competitive racing that generates the income.
So if a rider is not saddling up on raceday, his potential for earning is limited, if not, non-existent
In the milieu of the jockeys’ cries for greater parity from trainers, Ricardo Duhaney, a Jamaican jockey riding at Caymanas Park but gained his jockey’s licence in Trinidad and Tobago, is a the perfect example of a horse man struggling to get the big break and to make ends meet.
He started out riding horses in the mornings and evenings as an exercise rider until he could apply for an apprentice licence, but failed his English test by two per cent to be selected and was denied joining the Omar Walker batch of 2005-2006.
Hurt but not disheartened, Duhaney then packed his bags for Canada where he rode as an exercise rider for about a year and six months. Still, he was unsuccessful at nailing down the chance to realise his life’s dream, so he turned to the twin island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
The experience gained in Jamaica and Canada was more than enough to prepare Duhaney for his Trinidad chapter and there he worked his way forward at the Arima Race Course until he gained a jockey-riding licence. He has since returned to Jamaica as a full-fledged jockey and has so far ridden four winners.
“When I succeeded it was the happiest day of my life. As a former student at Bridgeport High School, I did well at football, but racing was what I wanted to do and still want to do. So I turned my back on football and headed for Caymanas Park after high school.
“I first visited the track as a 15-year-old where my father [George Duhaney] was a top groom and who had groomed several horses who won “big purse” races before I started going to the track. After that first visit, I got to love horses and to riding them and promised myself to become a jockey.
“I am still young and still have some way to go to get the big rides but my humble beginning in Trinidad was not that bad. While I was there I got 16 rides and the highest I placed was fourth. I learnt a lot there. What hampered me though was that I failed to get an extension to my work permit so I had to return to Jamaica,” Duhaney told the Jamaica Observer.
Since his return to Caymanas Park, Duhaney would have wanted a better development to his career ,but the young rider believes with time, his act will surely get together.
“When I came back around 2012, I started working horses for Richard Azan and other trainers, but since then I have been riding mostly for [Gary] Subratie. It has been a little rough so far, but I am hanging on in there. Subratie is quite considerate and he looks out for me whenever he can. I won a race for him last year at odds of 44-1. When it is your time it is your time and nothing can ever change that,” said Duhaney.
For a rider who commands only a few rides, Duhaney said that all it would take to reap success is the necessary hard work.
“Well, all the future needs at present, is a little more work and I am prepared to do the work. I have no regrets choosing a profession in the racing industry as this is what I want to do and so I have to dedicate myself to the hard work.
“I am willing to go the extra mile. I know that I am a capable rider, and all I need are the good rides and I will surely show my talent,” he assured.