USA: Veteran jockey Richard Mitchell had only one stipulation when he sought a change of scenery after seven quiet years riding in Florida – it had to be somewhere warm.
Jamaican-born Mitchell, 49, has suffered so many injuries from spills during his career that his body can’t take the cold because it is full of metalwork.
“I have a screw in my shoulder, a plate in my hip, metal in my face and pelvis,” he says. “You name it, I probably have metal there.
“That’s why I don’t travel to cold weather tracks. Temperatures in the low 60s are okay. But when it gets in the 50s or lower it just hurts too much. My whole body hurts when it starts to get colder.”
Gulfstream Park met his climate criteria but, having arrived there in 2014 from Jamaica’s Caymanas Park, where he had ridden some 600 winners, he spent much of the time out in the cold, riding just 32 winners from 831 mounts.
He has had a warmer welcome at his new summer base at Monmouth Park where he has already ridden four winners, plus one at Parx. His best score over a year at Gulfstream was nine winners.
“Whenever I win it feels joyful,” said Mitchell, who books his own rides. “I appreciate the people at Monmouth Park giving me a chance. I wasn’t getting enough good mounts at Gulfstream. It’s very hard to break in there.
“I saw it as an opportunity to try something new. I have been galloping for some of the Jamaican trainers here and have kept busy, and now more people have noticed me and they have given me a chance.”
• Visit the Monmouth Park website