Berger's long wait is over
After an agonising wait of 10 months, Natalie Berger finally got it right at Caymanas Park on Wednesday, becoming the last of the three female apprentices who graduated from the Jockeys' School last September to ride a winner.
The 23-year-old apprentice booted home 5-1 chance PRINCESS EMANUELLE for veteran trainer Peter McMaster in the sixth race over the straight five course (non-winners of two), the lightly raced three-year-old filly coming through a furlong out and sprinting clear to win by 2 3/4 lengths in a field of 11.
A relieved Berger had this to say:
"I am happy to have finally got that elusive winner and am grateful to Mr McMaster for giving me the opportunity. The wait was long, but a lot of people were rooting for me today, including my two sistren, Melissa Ward and Andree Powell, who have already experienced the thrill of victory.
"I almost cried on the way back to the winners' enclosure, but so much has happened since we started riding last September that the tears have been shed in the past. This win is a celebration, and with hard work and determination to overcome the obstacles, I'm looking forward to more winners in the months ahead," said Berger, a past student of Gaynstead High in Kingston.
Earlier on in the programme, Ward set the stage for Berger by booting home 8-5 chance FRANCIA'S PRIDE for trainer Fitzroy Glispie in the third race over 1400 metres for maiden three-year-old fillies, notching the fifth win of her career in the process.
The nine-race programme provided another first for second-generation trainer Michael Marlowe, who saddled the even-money favourite BIGBROWNGREYHOPE to win the second race over 1300 metres for $450,000-$400,000 claimers.
Michael is the son of late trainer Valbert Marlowe. At age 60, he has vast experience, working for many years with top-flight American trainer Nick Zito in New York. He returned home last year and only obtained a licence to train locally in February.
Meanwhile, apprentice riders Linton Steadman and Dane Dawkins shared the riding honours with two winners each, Dawkins producing the Anthony Nunes-trained HOUDINI'S MAGIC (3-1) in the last furlong to beat 1-2 favourite LONG RUNNING TRAIN by three lengths in the open allowance mile. And Steadman was aboard 4-5 favourite WINESHA for trainer Marlon Anderson in the Drumbeat Trophy for $180,000 claimers over the straight, as well as 13-1 outsider GENUINE FRIEND in the fourth.