KINGSTON, Jamaica – For many, thoroughbred racing at Caymanas Park is merely for the purpose of entertainment or just a way of spending a Saturday afternoon, but for female apprentice Abigail Able it is life itself.
With the COVID-19 pandemic having pulled the shutters on racing indefinitely — similarly to other sporting disciplines in the country — Able fears she won’t survive in an industry which has been her bread and butter.
“Competitive race riding is what I do, it is my job, and it is my only source of income. It is everything to me.
“With the lockdown of horse racing, it has been really hard for me, along with most other riders at Caymanas Park. I mean, financially, I am struggling somewhat as I don’t do anything else.
“When we [jockeys] ride in races we get money; when we come in the top-six finishers in any race, we get money from the purse. That’s how we get money to finance ourselves, so when racing is shut down, we get nothing,” Able said in an interview.
While Able depends on race riding as a source of income, she said that support at times comes from trainer, Wayne DaCosta.
“From the start of my career, trainer, Wayne DaCosta has been the driving force behind me. He has given me support, encouragement, guidance, and even confidence during my career. I have won two races in my career aboard England’s Rose and Rojorn di Pilot, [both of whom] are trained by Mr DaCosta.
“During this coronavirus lockdown, Mr DaCosta continues to help and support me, and I want to give him all the thanks and praises in the world,” Able said.
With over 100 rides and two career wins, “Little Abbi”, as the female jockey is known at the racetrack, said she has no regrets choosing a profession in the racing industry and plans to keep working to hone her craft.
“I had originally considered becoming a nurse, but changed my mind right after I fell in love with the sport and horses. I have the right height, I am very light, and my weight is just right.
“Even though, I am not where I had wanted to be, it is still a learning process for me, and it will get better for me. I will continue to do the hard work as only with hard work, success will come,” Able said.