Jalon’s song of Redemption
JALON SAMUEL isn’t in Lord Michael Taylor’s camp anymore.
Guess who’s saying show me the money now, though?
He’s no Bob Marley, but horse racing’s talented teen has written his own Redemption Song after bouncing back from last year’s heartbreak to saddle Sandy Lane Gold Cup long shot Dancin David to one of the more unlikely wins in the race’s 31-year history.
It was easily the day’s biggest story, and it’s most dramatic – the validation of a once fallen jockey who lost the Caribbean’s biggest race just a year ago by disqualification after passing the post first.
“I feel as if I have a crown on top of my head,” said Samuel of his first Gold Cup win.
“This is something new now and it’s an experience like none other. After last year I’m just so happy to be in the winners’ circle, so I’m really keeping this one.”
His joyful expressions were a far cry from last year’s tears of sorrow that immediately followed the stewards’ announcement which robbed him and Show Me The Money of an emphatic Gold Cup triumph.
On the pre-race favourite, Samuel comfortably passed the post first only to learn of his disqualification moments later when Apostle’s connections lodged a protest of obstruction.
Coming up short never held more meaning for a man measuring under five feet.
“Last year was a disappointment . . . a real letdown, but after races I always say there are other races to come, so I just put that behind me and went again,” recalled Samuel.
“I got over that race the same night it happened, though, because that’s just how races go. It was a mistake and now I’ve fixed that mistake and I’m just happy that I could do it.”
But redemption almost wasn’t his.
Not with the same creole, at least, as a reported rift between him and the connections of owner Lord Michael Taylor seemingly led to the camp choosing the legendary Patrick Husbands over the young pilot.
“No disrespect to Lord Michael or trainer Anderson Ward because they groom good horses, but I wanted to ride Show Me The Money [again]. However, they chose Patrick Husbands because he is the most experienced jockey at this game right now,” said Samuel.
He nearly didn’t even ride in the big race either, having favoured Dancin David – originally a reserve – over eventual second-place finisher John Brian when he was approached by Sir David Seale’s camp.
“I told the trainer I want to ride this horse whether it’s a reserve or not because I worked with him in the morning. I just felt me and this horse would make a good combination,” said Samuel.
“I said I will be patient and just wait for this horse to get in and I knew once this horse gets in that I would win for sure. So said, so done.”
And the rest, as they say, was history, as Mingun Temple was a late scratch on the eve of the race, allowing the 18-year-old talent another shot at the redemption he knew was his.
Even when heavy odds-on favourites Apostle and Show Me The Money stormed out to the front, Samuel never wavered in his plan, always believing Dancin David was going to be singing at the end.
“I rode both horses before, so I knew Apostle wouldn’t really relish these goings and that the course was a bit too sticky for Show Me The Money,” Samuel revealed.
“All I had to do was keep the timing in my head and just go at the right time, and at three and a half furlongs out I knew I had the race.”