Jockey school teaching lessons beyond the art of riding
Winning jockey of the 2017 Diamond Mile race Dane Nelson greets then president and chief executive officer of Supreme Ventures Limited Ann Dawn Young-Sam (right) and Elizabeth DaCosta, wife of Diamond Mile winning trainer, the late Wayne DaCosta, at a function..

Through the Jamaica Racing Commission (JRC) Training School, aspiring jockeys learn the techniques and rules of professional race riding as well as how to care for horses, including courses in nutrition, fitness, and technology.

However, according to internationally accredited steward Eustace Williams, the training facility does provide courses that go beyond horseback riding for jockeys.

Aside from the jockey-training programme where the jockeys are tutored in general knowledge about horse breeding, training, performance, anatomy, and grooming to perform their duties, Williams said that the jockeys are also taught how to apply themselves to life in general.

"We go through everything because in essence we are teaching them how to function in life. So they [the jockeys] are taken through accounting, having a bank account, health issues, etiquette, and how to sit properly at a dining table at an official function. The whole range of what you will do in your life," Williams told the Jamaica Observer.

"And these are things that they will come across because once they are in the spotlight, they will be invited to functions, and they should learn how to perform. They are even taught how to conduct interviews because when they win a race and someone puts a microphone or a camera in front of them, they know how to answer questions.

"Their English and demeanour are also important. And so we teach them how to speak into the microphones and how to look straight into the camera and answer questions," Williams further explained.

Phillip Parchment, president of the Jamaica Jockeys' Guild, said that these life values taught by the JRC are very important to the overall development and growth of the riders.

"It is very good and important because as you may have noticed in the early days, when it comes to doing interviews, most of the jockeys cannot do a proper interview. So the jockey training school does wonders for us with that," he said.

The bustling rider continued: "So when we as riders go outside of horse racing, we know how to conduct ourselves in public. Our communication skills and English are up to standard, and we know how to conduct ourselves at special functions as well. We are able to talk properly and do things."

Tamicka Lawrence, one of five female riders currently plying their trade at Caymanas Park, shared the same sentiments as Parchment.

"That is what the classes are made up of. They know that we [jockeys] are becoming celebrities, so they try to groom us in the right way, because not everyone comes to the race track knowing how to speak proper English and how to put a sentence together. Simply ask those [jockeys] what your name is, and they will respond, 'Mi name Barbie.'

"So, school teaches us how to speak properly. For instance, you win a race for an owner, and the owner's wife comes from overseas and says that she wants to take that jockey out to dinner to thank him or her for winning the race. So what will happen now? With that teaching that we got from the school we will be able to stand up for ourselves, speak properly, and conduct ourselves well at the table," Lawrence said.

PARCHMENT... so when we as riders go outside of horse racing, we know how to conduct ourselves in public
LAWRENCE...they know that we [jockeys] are becoming celebrities, so they tried to groom us in the right way because not everyone comes to the racetrack knowing how to speak proper English and how to put a sentence together
Jockey school training involves lessons on handling social settings.
BY RUDDY ALLEN Staff reporter

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