Determination pays off
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
IN-FORM jockey Jasen Watkins has a busy day ahead this afternoon when he rides in seven of the eight races on today's Blueberry Farms program at Coffs Harbour Racecourse.
Just to make the day a little more hectic for himself, his rides are with seven different trainers.
The fact that so many trainers are after Watkins services is proof that he's one of the hottest hoops in the area lately.
"Riding a little bit of work and a few winners lately has been helping," he said modestly.
"I'm getting on better quality horses now and that helps a lot.
"When you get on better horses it makes the job a bit easier for everybody."
It wasn't that long ago that Watkins' run of form seemed a distant hope as he was forced to have a spell from the track due to serious illness.
"I had pneumonia two or three months ago and I was in hospital for a week," the 31 year-old explained.
"That's what has got me going again as I've had to start looking after myself and get going again."
Over the last week, Watkins has ridden winners at Ballina, Bowraville and Armidale, yet he's the first to admit that there's nothing like riding at your home track.
"I love it, I love this track," the Coffs Harbour boy enthused.
"I enjoy riding here because it's a nice big track and you've got plenty of time to win a race here."
As much as he loves the green grass of home, while Watkins continues to ride winners and the phone calls from trainers keep coming, he will continue to clock up the miles.
"I'm riding here today, then I slip to the Gold Coast and ride one for Philip Minter on Saturday, then I go to Cessnock on Sunday, I've got five rides down there," he added.
"Then I come back and go to Lismore Monday and Taree Tuesday."
It's the miles that makes the racing game in the country such a tough industry but Watkins knows that his lot in life would be lot harder if it wasn't for a good woman being right behind him.
Watkins and local trainer Jessica Lang have been together for nearly three years now and the jockey is the first to admit he's a lucky man to have her.
"Jess puts up with me somehow," he said.
"I must be hard to live with considering the not eating and all of that so I'm pretty lucky she's there, especially when I was crook."