Chally Jones

Sunday, 11th September 2011

Challenor “Chally’ Jones is a legend in Barbados and Caribbean racing.  He was the first Barbadian jockey to ride 1,000 winners and from1956 to 1981 he won all the major races, including a record 17 Derby wins, 11 of them in Barbados.  A former Lodge School student, he followed his passion rather than his tutors, and inevitably his love of animals took him into the equestrian field.  The late Elliott Williams, father of Sir Charles, gave him every encouragement as a teenager and in due course he got his jockey’s licence in 1956 and almost immediately his winning career was launched.  He rode for the Goddard’s stable in his early years, but it was his association with Sir John Chandler’s stable that set him apart from his peers.  His rivalry with Edmund De Freitas and later Venice Richards attracted a huge following, and he became a well-known and popular winner in Barbados, Trinidad, Tobago and Guyana.  A serious back injury ended his career in 1981, but ‘Chally’ was already established as an icon in Caribbean racing to such an extent that he had been awarded the MBE for his services to the sport in 1972 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11.

“Chally’ then went into training and breeding, and he remains one of the top sporting personalities on the island.  His son Jono had big shoes to fill when he followed in his father’s footsteps, but he has also proved to be an outstanding jockey over the past decade with a series of impressive wins in both Barbados and Canada.

Chally Jones loves the racing scene, although he is quick to point out it is a lot different from his early days in the sport’

“Starting out in my racing career it was very exciting as I was following my dream.  My old headmaster and my mother headed the list of people who thought I was mad, but within a short time, they accepted it was something I enjoyed and could succeed at.  In those days the sport had a lot more discipline, and everyone followed the rules.  There was respect for the stewards and their decisions, and although the rewards were not as high as today, there was lots of fun and enjoyment.  Huge crowds packed the Garrison on race days, thousands of them inside the racetrack, where drinking and gambling went on long after darkness.  Hundreds of workers came from the plantations to watch the races on Saturdays and many of them ran onto the course to cheer on their horses as we moved into the finishing strait.  I remember in one of my early races a snow-cone man crossing the course during a race and when he saw the horses he abandoned his cart and ran for the fence!  I was in the lead at the time, but I finished nearly last after having to jump the cart!

There was always lots of enjoyment and when we paraded in front of the main stand after the race, the racing fans gave the winning connections a big ovation.”

“Chally” is still an active trainer and breeder, and also has time to enjoy his other passion of sailing.  Although the modern racing scene is very different from his day, he strongly recommends it for visitors;

“We have many good friends from overseas who plan their visits around the top racing events.  What they love most of all is being close to the action and the horses, the jockeys and the trainers.  It is a wonderful day’s enjoyment.”

And that’s as close as you can get to hearing it from the horse’s mouth!

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