Orville Clarke, Sunday Gleaner Writer
Champion jockey Dane Nelson rode his 700th winner, FRANGIPANI, at Caymanas Park yesterday to hold down ninth position on the all-time list headed by Winston 'Fan' Griffiths.
Nelson, who started riding at the back-end of 2002 after graduating from the Jockeys' School, produced a strong finish on the Richard AZAN-trained FRANGIPANI to overhaul long-time leader DAGGA DAGGA LINKS (4-1) midway through the last furlong, winning the 1200-metre race for maiden two-year-olds by 1 3/4 lengths.
The 29-year-old jockey wasted no time starting for another century, coming back to win the fourth race over 1200 metres aboard 2-1 chance ANARKALI for trainer Dwight CHEN.
Nelson said he was happy to achieve the milestone and hopes that in another three years he will have joined a select band of riders to have ridden over 1,000 locally. Griffiths (1,644), Trevor Simpson (1,444), Charles Hussey (1,239), Andrew Ramgeet (1,148) and Emilio 'Bimbo' Rodriquez (1,084) have already achieved the feat.
"I have many good years ahead of me and providing I can control my weight there's no telling how far I can take it," said Nelson.
"Right now I am riding in good form and with this milestone out of the way, my next objective is to retain the jockeys' championship. I have made up a lot of ground on Omar Walker in the past two months, but it's not over until it is over.
"I'll just have to remain focused and hope that the momentum carries me to the front," added Nelson.
3 late non-starters
He secured rides in all 11 races on the programme, only to see three of his mounts being late non-starters. These were HAWKEYE in the fifth, ante-post favourites MAN ALIVE and I AM THANKFUL in the last two races.
Nelson, who recently got married, rode his first winner, GUARDIAN ANGEL, in January 2003 and has not looked back. Among his 700 winners was AD INFINITUM for trainer Anthony Nunes in the 2008 Superstakes.
Nelson pushed his season's tally to 83 - four adrift of Omar Walker who rode one winner, SCOOP JORDYNE (3-1), in The Cecil C. Charlton Memorial Cup over 1300 metres.
Meanwhile, ROYAL VIBES, who finished third in the derby back in June, took over the lead from stable companion JACK DE CHARMER at the halfway stage to win the Royal Dad Trophy over 1820 metres by 4 1/2 lengths from 66-1 outsider FANTABULOUS.
He was ridden by Dick Cardenas for champion trainer Wayne DaCosta.