KINGSTON, Jamaica – Apprentice Reyan Lewis says he is bitterly disappointed at his own level of indiscipline that resulted in a significant drop in form last season. Yet, Lewis is backing himself to bounce back this year and to prove more reliable in the saddle.
Lewis, who graduated from the Jamaica Racing Commission (JRC) Jockeys’ School in 2018, was viewed as one of the better riders of his batch, working with and winning numerous races for trainers such as two-time champion Anthony Nunes before the slump.
He confessed that the recent dip in winners had left him feeling out of sorts, but in the same breath admits that there were lessons learnt from the situation.
“Last year wasn’t so bad, I had some ups and down and you know how it is, in life sometimes things don’t go as planned. Now, I just intend to take it easy and come stronger this year,” Lewis told this publication.
“All riders have to be obedient and disciplined to keep their weight, in other words you have to be committed and determined to put in the hard work and once you do that then you can expect a lot. That is the aim for me, to just be humble and grounded, continue working hard and hopefully it will pay off,” he added.
The 20-year-old’s sentiments came shortly after riding his first winner in 2021 which allowed him to reach the significant milestone of 100 career wins.
Lewis brought up his milestone aboard the Leroy Tomlinson-trained Miss Hazel in the second event on the New Year’s Day 2021 nine-race programme, as they romped to victory over seven furlongs (1,400 metres). Miss Hazel won by 4 ½ lengths in a time of 1:29.0.
That solitary win over the two-day weekend cards saw Lewis taking his tally to 100 wins, 106 second-placed finishes and 76 third-placed efforts from 626 career rides.
“I rode her [Miss Hazel] last week and got to understand her a bit, so at this journey I came with my plan which was to get a sharp break and position her well and then ask her for the last quarter and she gave me her best. I am happy that we won and even happier to reach the milestone and just hope there will be many more to come,” he noted.
Although reaching 100 wins, Lewis remembers clearly the very first time he visited the winners’ enclosure aboard the Fitzroy Glispie-conditioned Deal Marker. That first win he believes paved the way for him to ride Grade One horses such as Nunes’ Bigdaddykool.
Now Lewis, who first fell in love with racing at the tender age of six when he watched his cousin and six-time champion Omar Walker pilot a horse to victory, is adamant that he can complete a comeback and possibly join the champions’ ranks once the rides become available again.
“Like I said, indiscipline and not maintaining my weight were my downfall but I have grown and learnt from my mistakes and I am now looking forward to better things,” said Lewis, whose longest odds winner of his career was 30-1 shot Bruce Wayne.
“I am just going around trying to find the rides where they are, so I am willing to ride for any and every trainer once they would have me do the honours,” the outspoken rider ended his interview with this publication.