Jalon Samuel a rising star

A relaxed and excited Jalon Samuel speaking to the Barbados Advocate after his Sandy Lane Gold Cup triumphs.
Barbados Advocate by Charlie Heath | 3/16/2012

Horse racing in Barbados, in recent years, has not been able to produce any star performers, but now that seems to be in the past with the rise of a young jockey by the name of Jalon Samuel, who at 18 years old is without question not only a star on the horizon, but he shows the quality of becoming a superstar.

Jalon started riding at the tender age of eight years old. He would go to the Garrison Paddock on mornings, when still at school, and ask the trainers to let him sit on the horses when the grooms were taking them back to the Dalkeith Paddock after they had worked.

As he got older, it was Anne Deane who was instrumental in helping the youngster improve his riding skills, as she had done for so many before him.

He was only 14 years old when he was granted a exercise licence, and at 15, he was granted his apprentice jockey licence. In the first race on the second day, November 8, 2008, after being granted his licence, he won on a horse named Kanon, and his career had started.

It was not long before he became in demand, not only in Barbados but in Trinidad. Between September and December of 2009, the former Lester Vaughan student had chalked up 16 winners, of which 10 of those wins came at Santa Rosa Park in Trinidad.

By 2010, he was showing exceptional skills, and won both the apprentice and open jockey titles.

2011 was a bittersweet year for Jalon, as he won the prestigious Sandy Lane Barbados Gold Cup that year on Show Me The Money, but lost it in the Stewards Room, which would have been a devastating blow to any 17-year-old.

Between November 2011 and March 2012, this youngster has shown what he is made of, as he has come up with three big wins, starting with the TT$250 000 Stewards Cup in Trinidad.

On Gold Cup day, this year, he rode the Joseph Brothers, Attie III and Saffie Joseph Jr., owned Areutalkintome, trained by David Yearwood, in the supporting feature Sandy Lane Spa Sprint. When asked why he chose Areutalkintome although the horse had not raced for 15 months, he informed this newspaper that he was working him, and he was going as good as before he had the accident. He recalls the neck-and-neck battle in the straight run with Purr Class, who was able to put a neck on him mid-way up the straight, but he was still able to get enough out of Areutalkintome at the wire to get his head back in front.

He admitted that the win on Areutalkintome gave him a real confidence booster coming in-to the Gold Cup, which he then won on Dancin David.

When asked if it was sweet revenge winning the Gold Cup on Dancin David, the young jockey said it was gratifying, more than revenge. He said that Show Me The Money ran a big race for him last year when he easily won, and he thought he was going well enough entering the straight not to have caused interference, but the Stewards ruled that he did, as did the Appellant Stewards on appeal, and in racing that is where the story ends, and you move on.

When questioned as to why he said, “Let them take this away from me,” after winning on Dancin David, he responded by saying that in the excitement and emotion of being able to win this race again, and knowing that he had a very clear run throughout the race, he was only expressing that there is no way this one would be taken away from him, and it was his to keep, and nothing else.

When asked if he was disappointed when the race was taken away from him last year, he said that he was disappointed, as any other jockey would be, but he never let it get to him, as he felt that there would be many more opportunities to win in the future, plus he had a lot of support from his family, friends and fans.

Asked how he got to ride on Dancin David? He says that is a long story, as he was originally to ride John Brian, but after working Dancin David one morning, he asked trainer Liz Deane, and Sir David’s son, Richard, if he could ride him instead, as he worked like a winner. At that stage Dancin David was in the race, and later he became a reserve and he stuck with him, “and he did not let him down, he is a good horse”.

After winning one of Trinidad’s major races, the Stewards Cup, where he beat the favoured Bruceontheloose by a short head, on the Errol Stables owned, Glen Mendez trained 9/1 shot Signal Alert, he then won the Spa Sprint and the Gold Cup.

That was followed by another opportunity, the chance to ride at Gulfstream Park in the United States.

Jalon says he was fortunate that trainer, Saffie Joseph Jr., invited him to Gulfstream Park, where he now trains, and he accepted the invitation.

“Trainer Joseph told me he had Town of Towns running, for owner Sir David Seale, and he asked Sir David’s son, Richard, if he could get the ride if he could get his papers sorted out in time, and they immediately agreed,” and he won the race, for which he thanked them for the opportunity.

Asked if winning with his very first ride in the United States was as sweet as the other three, Jalon quickly agrees, as he says he was riding with some of the best jockeys in North America.

He kept Town of Towns just off the leaders, and made his move at the 1/16 pole up the rail, beating Strapping Groom with Edgar Prado in the irons by 1/2 length.

In addition to his 86 wins at home, he has scored many wins in Trinidad and Martinique, and he has now added a win in the United States. He also had a ride at Windsor in the UK, when he rode a horse for Sir Michael Stoute.

We all know that many jockeys suffer with weight problems, and when asked what body weight he would like to weigh in at, he says it is his ambition to try and keep his body weight at 113 pounds when riding.

The young rider says he will continue riding here, and will grasp every opportunity to ride in any other country whenever the opportunity arises.

He told the Barbados Advocate that his ambition was to one day ride in the Breeders’ Cup races in the United States and the Kentucky Derby.

The young jockey insisted that he would not be where he is today without the support of his family, friends and race fans, for which he thanked them very much.

The Barbados Advocate, who since 2009 spotted Jalon Samuel – a star in the making, wishes the young rider continued success. (CH)