Big day for female rider Ward
Twenty-one-year-old Melissa Ward joined Azel Cowie (1992) and Georgina Sergeon (2009) as the only Jamaican women to ride a winner under Jamaica Racing Commission (JRC) rules at Caymanas Park when she booted home 8-1 chance SPORTING CLAY in post-to-post fashion in the JRC Jockey Training School race over 1200 metres yesterday.
The maiden race for four-year-olds and up was put on to familiarise the jockey school trainees with race riding experience among themselves for the first time before graduating as full-fledged apprentices in August.
According to JRC Welfare Officer and principal of the school, Ina Lawrence, Ward is among three female riders (a first) in a batch of 20 being trained by the JRC this year and all three rode for the first time yesterday. Ward, along with her female colleagues Natalie Berger and Andree Powell, had previously ridden in races confined to exercise riders prior to enrolling in the school last January.
TOAST OF THE PARK
As it turned out, Ward was the toast of Caymanas Park after her runaway win aboard the Phillip Lee-trained SPORTING CLAY. The 4-y-o bay gelding broke winging from the number five post position and after leading comfortably into the straight, moved away to win by nine lengths from 5-2 favourite SEAL THE DEAL with Odane Beckford aboard.
Amidst the cheers, Ward said she was confident that she would start her career on a winning note:
"SPORTING CLAY has a tendency of being slowly into stride so my intention was to see that he broke sharply on this occasion. Once in front, I paced him along nicely into the straight and had a lot in reserve to win going away.
"I'm really elated with the win but this is only the beginning. My training will continue for the next three months and I am looking forward to graduating and riding against senior jockeys, hoping to build a successful career In the years ahead," said the former Camperdown student.