KINGSTON, Jamaica - It is often said that the most important resources on one’s mission for success are the way of thinking, attitude and determination to win, come what may.
Newly crowned champion jockey Dane Dawkins knows all too well about that, as he embodies enthusiasm, competitive spirit and skill, while positivity pervades his every endeavour, even in the most difficult of times.
In fact, to say that it has been a very long, winding and often frustrating road to get to where Dawkins is today would be an understatement.
The 29-year-old, who started his career in 2015, has endured his fair share of injuries and setbacks over the years. And his successful 2022 campaign, in which he registered the 200-win milestone and claimed his maiden jockeys’ championship, shortly after bouncing back from injury, was no different.
“I am truly grateful for everything I achieved last year, but to be honest, I couldn’t have done it without God’s grace and guidance, because I was able to recover from an injury and end the year in good health as the champion,” Dawkins told this publication.
“As you know, in this profession there are highs and lows. The lows taught me that, no matter what, I just need to be focused and push beyond circumstances for what I want in life. The highs taught me that no matter how things are going great for me, there is always room for improvement and so I still need to push for better,” he added.
From securing just 35 winners in 2021 to 103 last year, dethroning Anthony Thomas by five winners, is proof of Dawkins’s ability to draw inspiration from within and push ahead to make things happen.
Soon after cutting his celebrations short to continue his hard work, the soft-spoken jockey, who ended last year on 296 career wins, accomplished another milestone — he joined a long list of jockeys to ride 300 winners at Caymanas Park.
The feat was made safe on Saturday, January 28, when Dawkins won aboard Gary Subratie’s Big Guy In TheSky and foreigner Stranger Danger for trainer Fitzgerald Richards. Prior to that, he won aboard another Subratie-trainee Love Dub and Ian Parsard’s Wifey Sez So, for his four winners thus far this year.
But, that is just for starters as far as Dawkins ambitions for this season is concerned.
“It is a great feeling to reach 300th career win. Again, I am grateful to God that I was able to tick another milestone off my list and I am just hoping to remain healthy so I can continue to build on it, as the aim is now the 400 mark along with other goals,” he declared.
One of those goals, Dawkins says is certainly to retain the top jockeys’ honour and though not entirely pleased with how things have started this year, where winners are concerned, he has every ounce of faith in agent Norshan “Roger” Hull to continue measuring rides in quality instead of quantity.
He is currently seventh in the standings with his four wins. Tevin Foster (11), Reyan Lewis (nine) Ramon Nepare (six), currently occupy the top three spots, with Robert Halledeen and Roger Hewitt completing the top five, on five winners each.
“The start this year is not as good as it was last year, but I knew that I would have to work even harder this year so that I can retain my championship title because there is a lot more competition this year. I am just hoping that the good rides that I am currently getting will continue to come,” he noted.
Dawkins, who had victories in the 1000 Guineas, Jamaica Derby, the Jamaica Cup, along with other stakes races last year, is aware that nothing is ever going to be perfect, but maintains an unwavering focus on the success of the mission.
“It means a lot to me to that I have made it this far in my career, but I got the hunger to push myself to achieve new goals because I still have a lot more to gain. So I am just going to do my best as always to keep fit and focus on the task ahead,” Dawkins ended.