Najair remembered as dedicated jockey
Executive chairman of Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited (SVREL), Michael Bernard, hailed veteran jockey Vassel Najair as a dedicated servant to the industry, after the 65-year-old reinsman passed away from injuries suffered at Caymanas Park on September 26.
Najair was struck by getaway horse PERFECT ASSET prior to the start of the seventh event at Caymanas Park, suffering extensive head injuries while trying to corral the five-year-old mare, who had bolted from the starting gate and ran on to a narrow walkway leading from the grandstand area to the winners' enclosure.
He was rushed to the Spanish Town Hospital and afterwards transferred to the Kingston Public Hospital, where the severity of his injuries delayed surgery.
"It is sad to see that he passed in such an untimely and unfortunate manner, all through his love for horses. He didn't want to see that horse get hurt," Bernard said.
DEDICATED TEAM MEMBER
"Both myself, as a horseman, and SVREL regret the untimely loss of Najair. He was a very enthusiastic and dedicated member of the racing fraternity and, most recently, up to early September, an employee of SVREL," Bernard added.
Najair started riding on July 29, 1967, worked as an outrider at Caymanas Park up to early September, helping to prevent exactly what caused his demise, ponying fractious horses to the starting gate.
Though employed as an outrider, a return to competitive riding could never be ruled out from Najair, whose physique and agility belied his 65 years.
Najair won a double on his first day in the saddle, partnering Gold Spoon to victory in the third race. He returned to land the ninth with Chantrelle.
Though his career was dogged by suspensions, which kept him out if the saddle for lengthy periods, including infamously tossing his helmet at an operations steward during an enquiry, Najair's toothful ear-to-ear grin and willing demeanour endeared him to all with whom he crossed path.
Najair recorded his last winner on August 7, 2017, aboard Peter McMaster's Ras Emanuel, taking his tally to 278 winners from 2,756 rides.