Champion jockey Dane Nelson was an elated and relieved man yesterday after he retained the jockeys' championship following a fabulous four-timer at Caymanas yesterday.
Going into tomorrow's final raceday of the season, Nelson (114 wins) leads arch rival Omar Walker by eight winners. But Walker, a four-time champion, has secured only six rides on tomorrow's 11-race programme. In mid-year, Walker led Nelson by almost 20 winners but weakened badly in the last quarter.
"It was a long, hard season for me, and I am glad it's over," said the 29-year-old returning champion, who started riding at the backend of 2002, having graduated from the Jockeys' Training School.
"Things was not always smooth as my fans can attest," he added.
"There was the time late in the first quarter when I had to undergo the ordeal of a 10-day suspension by the stewards. And although I successfully appealed the suspension, the winners were just not coming during this period as my mind was not at ease," he explained.
"But thanks to hard work and perseverance, I gradually overcame the rough patch to be crowned champion once again.
"I never gave up hope, and with the help of my agent, Lerone 'Bredda' Lee, was able to overall the leader.
"The day I rode six winners at the Sunday meet in mid-November was for me the turning point, and I never looked back," he said.
Wins aboard WARRIOR PRINCESS (8-1), MISS JUANITA (2-1), SURREAL (3-5) and NEW KINGSTON (9-1) yesterday was the icing on the cake, and Nelson says he is thankful to everyone who supported him.
- Orville Clarke