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Stabroek News

Mitchell riding crest of a wave
published: Tuesday | October 3, 2006


In recent weeks, jockey Richard 'Biah' Mitchell has been riding the crest of a wave at Caymanas Park.

The past month was a fruitful one for the 34-year-old reinsman, having ridden six winners, including two big outsiders for trainer Anthony 'Baba' Nunes.

These were LA PRESIDENTA at 55-1 over the straight five course on September 9 and stable-companion PITTACUS at 46-1 in last Wednesday's open allowance feature over a mile.

In typical fashion, the stylish jockey produced both horses from well off the pace to win convincingly.

Mitchell made it a double on September 9 aboard the improving three-year-old gelding DOMINA-DOR for trainer Garrett Arscott and last Wednesday nabbed another double with PITTACUS and the two-year-old colt TOOT DE HOOT for trainer Richard Azan in the Dewhurst Stakes, just missing a triple when CELEBRATION TIME was narrowly beaten by the outsider WEE GLITZ in the fourth race.

He also won aboard the promising two-year-old filly MONSTER QUEEN for owner/trainer Derrick Parram on Wed-nesday, September 13.

Having hit a purple patch, Mitchell has moved up appreciably in the jockeys' standings. He holds down eighth position with 16 winners and his objective is to finish even higher in the top 10 by year end.

'Biah' has had a somewhat checkered career since he started riding in April 1996, having graduated from the jockeys' school that year in a batch that included Wesley 'Calalloo' Henry and Shane Ellis, both subsequent champion jockeys.

Although riding his first winner, HACIENDA, for trainer Richie Todd a month or so after graduating, Mitchell believes he has not realised his full potential as a jockey and is now making up for lost time.

"I've made a lot of mistakes," he confesses. "I was just unable to settle down and take my riding serious and injuries also set be back from time to time.

"Right now I am more committed and the results of late are encouraging. I'm at the track as early as five o'clock or earlier every morning and I work horses for almost every trainer.

"With this kind of commitment, trainers will take you into their confidence and it will lead to better rides and more winners," he added.

Mitchell also attributed much of his recent success to a new fitness regime and the role of his agent, 'Roger', who has gone the extra mile to secure decent rides for him.

"Despite all that, it's up to you to give owners and trainers justice every time, otherwise they will lose confidence in you. In the end it's all about using your head to win races and not your body," said Mitchell.

He named former champion Hubert Bartley as his mentor and to this end has adopted the jockey's flat riding style. Overseas, his favourite jockeys are Kent Desormeaux and Alex Solis. He watches the two American jockeys constantly on tapes in an effort to improve his riding.

A father of two girls, Mitchell, who hails from St. Catherine, has been battering around Caymanas Park since 1986. He started out as a stable lad with trainer Derrick Forrest before moving to trainers Eddie Hamilton and Richie Todd who recommended him to the jockeys' school, but not before riding two winners in LIVE AID and STRONG MEDICINE in races confined to exercise riders.

To date, Mitchell has ridden 273 winners, including ONE ONE NINE for trainer Wayne DaCosta in the 2003 One Thousand Guineas, his only classic win.

- O.C.

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