Orville Clarke, Gleaner Writer
GARTH PENNANT, who is attached to the stables of trainer Lawrence Freemantle, has emerged champion groom with 15 wins, beating closest rival Michael Smith by a single winner last year.
Pennant, 32, is groom of the fleet-footed bay gelding MR SKILL, who won as many as seven races last year.
In addition to MR SKILL, he won three races with DIOR, while he recorded one win each with LESTERAE, MIRACLE RECOVERY, MILITARY MOVE, STRONG EAGLE and SWISS ACCOUNT.
Runner-up Smith is attached to the stables of Gary Subratie and is best known as the groom of the American filly NOON IT IS.
Pennant said he worked hard for the championship and was happy to be crowned champion groom for the first time.
He owed much of his success to MR SKILL, who won nearly half of his tally of races.
" MR SKILL just loves to win races and if every horse was like him, I would be a rich man," he said.
"What also helped me over the top was the level of planning and teamwork approach to training by Freemantle. We have a good working relationship and I am comfortable working for him," he added.
Pennant started out in racing as an exercise rider in the late 1990s before an injury forced him to switch to grooming horses.
He recalled leading out his first winner, SIR ANANDA BABA for trainer Alric Levy, before moving to the Freemantle stables some 10 years ago.
Pennant said he won three races with PAT N CALL, among others, but emphasised that no horse is as dear to him as MR SKILL, with whom he has teamed up to win eight races in all.