Apprentice Tameka Lawrence wants to make good after injury, COVID-19

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Samantha Fletcher

Most jockeys would be devastated and heartbroken if they were to endure almost two years without booting home a winner but not apprentice Tamicka Lawrence. Instead, the young rider says she is using her disappointments as stepping stones for better things to come.

Being a female jockey isn’t an easy profession, but with the requisite drive and steely determination, women can make it in a man’s world of horse racing. Despite the odds, Lawrence says she loves what she does and while her career path has been extremely challenging thus far, she has decided to press ahead with her lifelong dream.

“Well, it is like the opposite for me, because as a female rider who wasn’t getting enough acknowledgements this doesn’t really have an impact on me in a negative way as nothing great was expected from me.

“Now that most of the jockeys are staying at home due to the coronavirus I am here at the racetrack early every morning working out [exercising] a lot of horses and developing my skills and gaining some confidence as well,” Lawrence told the Jamaica Observer.

“This break from competitive racing is really a good thing for me as I got the chance to sit down and talk with people about my performances, explaining why I did certain things and what went wrong. I also got some advice on what I should do and how to handle things differently and so forth,” the Gregory Park native added.

Lawrence noted that most of the horses she mounts in the mornings at exercise are from the powerhouse stables of champion trainer Anthony Nunes, as well as Richard Azan.

“I work out horses mostly for these two trainers and the more horses I get upon in the mornings is the more I am getting better. I have exercised some strong horses such as Big Bang from Nunes’ stables and horses like those really helped me with my strength and positioning,” she beamed.

Lawrence was among three females — the others being Abigail Able and Samantha Fletcher — in a batch of 21 apprentices who graduated from the Jamaica Racing Commission Jockeys’ Training School in 2018.

Lawrence has received only 14 rides so far without making the frame [first to fourth places], while Fletcher has won 10 races from 241 rides, and Able has won two races from 112 rides.

“I really don’t feel any way because when it is your time it is your time and nothing can get into the way of that. When I was going to high school, I was a bright girl and when the rest of students were getting 32 per cent and 20 per cents I was getting 100 per cent and so maybe it is just my time to sit back and watch others doing well.

“I never saw myself as a loser, I am always a winner. I just have to keep working hard until my day comes and who knows, maybe I will be winning two and three races a day,” said Lawrence.

She continued: “Whenever racing resumes, I plan to use my light weight and get some rides and hopefully I can win some races as well. I have been working really hard and so I hope that my hard work can pay off.”