KINGSTON, Jamaica – Abigail Able is a part of a growing number of young women becoming more involved in the sport of thoroughbred racing.
At 24 years, not only is Able determined to make it in this tough male-dominated profession, she is also making a name for herself as a spirited competitor.
Able was one of three females in a batch of 21 apprentices who successfully went through the 2018 Jamaica Racing Commission (JRC) Jockey’s Training Programme, the others being Tamicka Lawrence and Samantha Fletcher. Fletcher is still riding while Lawrence has not been seen in recent times.
It took Able 53 rides to accomplish one of her goals, and that was to win a race. She accomplished that feat on Derby Day (June 29, 2019) when she booted home the Wayne DaCosta-trained England’s Rose in the Starters’ Trophy. England’s Rose won easily by 4 ¼ lengths.
To date, Able has won five races – England’s Rose, Drummer Boy, Rojorn Di Pilot and Casual Affair for DaCosta and Top Eagle for trainer Welsh Soutar. Both Casual Affair and Top Eagle won this year.
This website shares with readers Able’s time thus far in the racing industry.
WEBSITE: How did you get involved in horse racing?
ABLE: I have always had a love for horses for a long time. I used to go to the racetrack to help my big sister [Kerry-Ann Newell] in the mornings, as she, at the time, was working at the pool. It then happened that I started to help the grooms swim the horses. Swimming horses in the pool doesn’t mean that you go into the water — which is very deep — with the horse. We hold the rope that is attached to the horse’s swimming equipment and walk around the pool edges and let the horses swim. That’s where the feeling of loving horses got real.
WEBSITE: What sealed the deal for you to become a jockey?
ABLE: It happened the morning when I saw this horse named Polly B going down the track with trainer Rowan Mathie. I asked Mathie if I could go on his horse and he told me yes, so, I went on Polly B while the groom was leading him. The groom told me that I could lead him [Polly B] in by myself but before that could happen, the water truck was passing at the same time and Polly B got frightened and broke off with me on his back. People were shouting from all angles telling me what to do. I was so scared that I didn’t even hear what they were saying. After a while Polly B came to a stop and Mathie rushed to us and caught Polly B and asked me if I was okay, and if I still wanted to become a jockey. I told him yes, because, at that moment, that was what I wanted to do. That day, despite the threat, was magical for me.
WEBSITE: What was the feeling like when you won your first race?
ABLE: I was very happy the day when I won the first race of my career. Although it took some time, I was very happy, pleased and grateful for the win. I had many dreams before about winning my first race and when it came, it was amazing.
WEBSITE: Which is the best horse you have ridden so far?
ABLE: All the horses I have won on.
WEBSITE: Being a female jockey comes with many challenges, how difficult it is for you?
ABLE: You have to prove to everyone that you are just as strong as the males and that you’re not going to be pushed around. To be a good female rider in a male-dominated sport you have to be tough. A lot of people usually say girls cannot ride, they are soft — those kinds of things — so you have to prove them wrong.
WEBSITE: What was the feeling like when you had made racing history as the first female reinswoman to ride in the prestigious Diamond Mile in 2019?
ABLE: I was super excited about that, not only to get a ride in the Diamond Mile for which I was very pleased, but also to be the first female to ride in the race. I was over the moon. At that time when the Diamond Mile was on the calendar, it was every rider’s dream to ride in such a big race, and for me to get a mount, I was grateful for the opportunity.
WEBSITE: Who has influenced your career the most?
ABLE: Mr Wayne DaCosta has been the driving force behind my career and I must thank him for everything. Right now, he is everything to me and he is the reason for making me who I am today. Mr Rowan Mathie also gets a lot of thanks. All the other trainers as well and my many friends and family have played a part in my career.