Horse Racing : Iconic Jockey Jeff Jacobs Retires After 40 Years in the Saddle
By Neto Baptiste
Veteran jockey Jeff Jacobs saddled up for the last time and has announced his retirement from competitive horse racing after dedicating over 30 years to the sport.
Jacobs, who rode in his last competitive race in June 2019 when he piloted Syrian Soca to victory in the final leg of the Antigua Triple Crown Series, the Governor General’s Cup, said he decided to call it a day following the long layoff due to the Covid 19 pandemic.
“I had determined in my heart to give horse racing 40 years, but because of the pandemic, I did an extra one because it’s not the ideal way I wanted to retire. I saw myself retiring coming off a horseback after a race day, winning a few races on that day, if not all, and retiring; but it was not meant to be,” he said.
The iconic jockey who has had success on some of the country’s top thoroughbreds to include La Sham, Demolition Man, Syrian Soca and Mr Big Stuff, believes he would have found success as an international rider, but added that that would have required living abroad which is something he was not prepared to do.
“It’s something that you’d have to live [abroad] and I don’t see myself living outside of Antigua, and that’s one of my hiccups really. I don’t mind travelling to race and come back, but to really make an impact in horse racing [away] you have to live [overseas], but I’ve had opportunities, even early on in my career in Barbados, there were some opportunities,” Jacobs said.
President of the Antigua Turf Club (ATC) Neil Cochrane said Jacobs’ contribution to the sport is priceless and is encouraging the jockey to pass on what he has learned to the country’s next generation of riders.
“It’s a bittersweet day, I think, for everyone in the fraternity because and I think Jeff has said so himself that ideally, how he would have liked to see himself go out in terms of retirement which I think would have been the best fitting way. But at the end of the day, the stage on which he has played a leading role is all set and it’s all his to make that decision. We want to thank him for his dedication and we look forward for his work in the other areas of the sport and its development because I think he still has a lot to offer,” he said. Jacobs, who turned 55 on March 8, started as a jockey at the age of 14 with his first race coming in September of 1981. He became a champion jockey for the first time in 1984.
(Footnote: Jeff Jacobs was one of the top Jockeys at the Indian Castle race track in Nevis, for many years).