Hall of Famer 'Kiddy' Mattis dead at 78
Orville Clarke, Sunday Gleaner Writer
The local horse racing fraternity lost one of its stalwarts with the passing of retired jockey and trainer Kenneth Mattis. O.D. yesterday morning at age 78.
Mattis, affectionately known as 'Kiddy', who had a long and distinguished career spanning 60 years, suffered a stroke early last week and had to be hospitalised. He died at the Tony Thwaites wing of the University Hospital of the West Indies shortly before 11 a.m. and the news was relayed to Caymanas Park shortly before the first race at 12:15 p.m.
His wife, Yvonne, was actually at the track early (as she normally does every raceday with her husband), when she was summoned and had to be rushed to the hospital.
Mattis was 'one in a million'. He had the unique distinction of being the only racing personality to be inducted twice into the Hall of Fame of Thoroughbred Racing in Jamaica, first for his exploits as a jockey and then as a trainer who won eight championships, including four in a row from 1985 to 1988.
Prior to taking up training in 1971, Mattis was know as the best jockey never to have won the championship at Caymanas Park. He retired from the saddle with 445 winners, including the legendary '60s' sprinter None Such with whom he won a string of important races for Hall of Fame trainer Allan 'Billy' Williams.
Mattis kicked off his training career in the early '70s with two very good 'A1' horses, AGGREGATE and BIRBELLA as well as the ageing RUMPSTER who provided him with his first training success. As the years progressed, Kiddy was associated with some truly outstanding horses, best of these being the legendary LEGAL LIGHT, not to mention ROYAL DAD who distinguished himself as the first Triple Crown winner at Caymanas Park in 1981 and the first to win 11 consecutive races.
Significantly, yesterday's grade one feature race for the None Such Sprint Trophy was run in honour of Mattis' favourite horse as a jockey. And the winner, UPPA TUNE, was ridden by Paul Francis, who notched his first career win as an apprentice aboard the Mattis-trained LSC CHOICE in 2002.
The CEO of Caymanas Track Limited, Cedric Stewart, along with racing secretary, Denzil Miller Jr, and the president of the Jamaica Racehorse Trainers' Association, Vin Edwards, all paid tribute to Kenneth Barrington Mattis.
Stewart summed it up best: "He was an exemplary jockey, exemplary trainer and exemplary human being who will sadly be missed by the racing fraternity."
Meanwhile, the Robert Pearson-trained UPPA TUNE, an even-money favourite, led home his highly fancied stable companions POTCHEEN and PETE'SWILDONE to win the None Such Sprint by three lengths.