Kenneth Mattis: living legend in racingJamaica Gleaner News - Kenneth Mattis: living legend in racing - Tuesday | August 14, 2007
...Kenneth Mattis: living legend in racing
Hall of Fame trainer and former jockey Kenneth Mattis
(left) presents the W. 'Billy' Pick Memorial Cup to the owners' representative of Unique SELECTION at Caymanas Park
on Saturday, June 23. - Colin Hamilton/Freelance Photographer KENNETH MATTIS
is a living legend in the annals of local horse racing.He
has the unique distinction of being the only racing personnel to be twice inducted into the Hall of Fame - first for his
exploits as a jockey in 1986 and as trainer in 2001.
Indeed, the year 2001 was a special one for Mattis
was not only inducted into the Hall of Fame in June, but was conferred with the National Honour, Order of Distinction (O.D.) in August.
Later that month, he
1,000th winner, L.S.C. CHOICE, to become the third trainer - behind Allan 'Billy' Williams andPhilip Feanny - to achieve the feat.Mattis
paid a rare visit to the winners' enclosure on Saturday, July 28, when posting TAKE FIVE and MISS SLOOKIE, both ridden by one of his favourite jockeys, Oneil Mullings, to win the third and sixth races, respectively.
NECK AND NECK: None Such (right, ridden by Kenneth Mattis) and Touchwood (Trevor McKenzie) pass the finishing post in a dead heat in the 'A' Class six furlongs at Caymanas
on Saturday in September 1966. - File
During the 1960s, Mattis
established himself as one of the best jockeys never to have have won the championship.He started his riding career as an apprentice to his mentor W. 'Billy' Pick in the early '50s at Knutsford Park and ended in 1971, largely due to weight problems.
After leaving St. Alysious Primary school in 1951, Mattis
began riding the following year.
, who had a terrible riding accident early in his
career and still has the scars on his
left arm to show for it, also rode winners at Marlie racetrack in Old Habour.
..."I really enjoyed my stint in the saddle," recalls Mattis, "especially in later years when I rode the winners of many important races at Caymanas Park, including Princess Royal for trainer Sydney Watson (who is still with us) in the 1961 Derby, Ska for trainer Bobby Hale in the 1966 Derby and Buckchaser for trainer Billy Williams in the 1969 Derby.
, whose sons Michael and Kevin became trainers as well, also won the Jamaica Guineas
aboard the Gerry Skelton-trained KANDAHAR in 1963 and TORNADO for Billy Williams two years later, as well as the St. Leger with the Williams-trained CAPTAIN GOODENOUGH in 1964 and returning to win it for four consecutive years from 1966 to 1969 aboard SARATOGA, L'MAX and the stable-companions OBERON and BUCKCHASER, respectively.
trainer's licence on April 12, 1972 and saddled his
first winner, RUMSTER, months later.A syndicate of owners (SAME), comprising Yvonne Lyncook (now his wife) and her brothers, saw the potential in Mattis
and acquired two good horses for him to train - AGGREGATE and BIRBELLA.
went on to win eight trainers' championships, the first in 1979.He
duly repeated the following year while other titles came in 1983, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988 and 1990.He
won a memorable championship over arch-rival Philip Feanny in 1988 when the little fancied filly OPHELIA ran her
heart out to finish second to PAPER CHASE in the Benson & Hedges Gold Cup on the last raceday of the year, enabling him to beat the leader Feanny by a fistful of dollars.
Big Race winnersMattis
first Derby as trainer with the 1981Triple Crown winner and 'Horse of the Year' ROYAL DAD, who once held the record of 11 consecutive wins before his
untimely death on October 16, 1982 when he
collapsed and died on the track after winning the Governor-General's Stakes.His
other Derby winner was D'S A LEGEND in 1985.He
singled out the legendary LEGAL LIGHT, whom he
acquired from trainer Billy Williams at the backend of 1977, as the greatest horse he
has ever trained and the vast majority of racing fans would agree.
Owned and bred by Jack Ashenheim, LEGAL LIGHT won 27 races from 53 starts, most of these under 'Hall of Fame' jockey Winston 'Fanna' Griffiths who struck up a wonderful partnership with Mattis
during the late '70s and '80s.
Other big race winners trained by Mattis
include COMMON LAW, NAHEELAH, ROBIN GOODFELLOW, SHINING HOUR, QUIET RIOT, LEGAL MAN, THRONE CIRCLE, KHADULLAH, PERSIAN INVADER, MY LADY SILK, RICOCHET, ZALONDRINA and the filly MENTO MAID, who scored a notable upset in the 1978 Red Stripe Superstakes while classified in 'B2' class.