08/16/2007 11:00PM

Young jockey Nicholls making most of mounts


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Business is starting to pick up for jockey Keveh Nicholls. After a slow start at the meet, Nicholls has won 8 races from his last 45 mounts and he gave a flawless ride on B R Remark to win the B.C. Cup Sprint on Aug. 6.

Nicholls, who is only 21 years old, appears to have a bright future. It wasn't surprising that it took a while for him to catch on at Hastings. After all, like at most tracks, there's a well-established hierarchy here. Pretty much all of the live horses were already wrapped up when he arrived here this spring. He's been patient, though, and he credits a lot of hard work for his recent success.

"People see that I'm here every day working hard and I think it's beginning to pay off," he said. "When they see you out here every day, they get to know you better and they're more willing to give you a chance."

Nicholls, who is a half-brother to one of Alberta's leading riders, Quincy Welch, was born in Barbados. He became involved with horses through his father, who is an owner and trainer there.

"I was around horses all the time as a kid and I liked it," he said. "I went to jockey school for six or seven months, and when you're finished you get an exercise license. After a few more months at the track, you can get your jockey's license."

According to Nicholls, he got off to a good start as a rider.

"I was the leading apprentice in 2002 and 2003," he said. "I also won the Guineas, which is the first leg of the triple crown."

The Barbados triple crown comprises the Guineas, Mid-summer Classic, and Barbados Derby. All three races are staged at Garrison Savannah, which is two miles outside of the capital, Bridgetown.

Nicholls first rode in Canada in 2005 at Assiniboia Downs, where he rode only 45 horses and won 5 races. Struggling to get mounts, he left before the meet concluded, which turned out to be a good thing.

"There were a lot of jockeys there at the time and I was only riding a few horses on the weekends," he said. "I went home for a visit and I ended up winning the derby."

Last year at Assiniboia, Nicholls won 27 races, and he seemed to have established himself there. Nonetheless, he decided to give Hastings a try this year.

"I thought I would try something new, and Quincy told me it was a good place to ride," he said. "He also helped me out quite a bit getting settled here."

It's always an adjustment for a rider when he first rides at a smaller track like the five-furlong Hastings oval.

"At Garrison Savannah, they run the other way, but turns there are similar to the ones here," Nicholls said. "One thing I've learned here is that you have to save ground and you need to put your horse in a good position early. Once you get a good position, it certainly helps if you have a horse that can run a bit."

Trainer Brian Giesbrecht was obviously very happy with the ride Nicholls gave B R Remark in the B.C. Cup Sprint.

"He did everything perfectly," Giesbrecht said. "He tucked him in behind horses nicely and made his move at just the right time. Keveh can ride, but if the horses he's riding can't run, there's not a lot he can do about it. Gary Stevens went 0 for a 100 riding bums at Portand Meadows and now he's in the Hall of Fame."

Few spots for B R remark

Giesbrecht may find it tough to find a sprint for B R Remark. There aren't any sprint stakes left at Hastings.

"There's an allowance race coming up, but I'm not sure if it will fill or not," Giesbrecht said. "If it doesn't, I guess we'll stretch him out to nine furlongs in the next stakes. He's won going long before but, really, he's a much better sprinter."

More than likely B R Remark's next start will be in the 1 1/8-mile S W Randall Plate on Sept. 2.

The horse that finished second to B R Remark, Stole Another, has been sold to Bob Cheema and he's been sent to Woodbine with trainer Terry Jordan.

* Great Prince tries to win his fourth straight race in the seventh race at Hastings on Sunday. The 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds and up running for a top claiming price of $15,000 drew eight horses.