Emotional win for popular jockey
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
THERE have been few jockeys in Coffs Harbour that can lay claim to being as popular as Jasen Watkins.
When the knockabout larrikin of the local racing scene brandished his whip as he flashed past the post on Mr Gold Fire to win yesterday's Carlton Draught Coffs Harbour Gold Cup, the roar from the 12,000 strong crowd was enormous.
"I hadn't planned to wave the whip, I got fined for it on the weekend on the Gold Coast but I've been confident of winning this race for a long time," Watkins said sporting his familiar cheeky grin.
"It's finally paid off now all the hard work and the hard miles I do walking and jogging and the sauna and surfing."
Returning to scale, Watkins was an emotional figure as all the hard work of fighting back from a bout of pneumonia and finding the extra dose of discipline that has turned him into a class hoop had paid off to give him the highlight of his career.
Leading up to yesterday's race, Watkins was confident of victory but almost from the moment the 14 strong field jumped from the barriers, his hopes increased.
"I thought I'd win it from the 1000m," he said.
"The race was run to suit him and I've had four rides on this horse for three wins now, I know him pretty well and he's a good horse.
"Coming towards the winning post the first time, the pace pretty well suited me straight off the bat and at the 1200m mark a couple of gaps opened up along the fence and I just kept following it because he's a horse you can't really drag around a bit, you've just got to let him be comfortable.
"He's a pretty easy horse to ride, you've only got to push the button when you want to go and he goes as you saw today.
"He's got better things for him so hopefully he sticks around and I win a couple more cups on him."