Hello Rico

JOHN SHORT -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:53 AM ET

Respect is to be expected between brothers in the same business. So is competitive rivalry.

Rickey Walcott, who has been one of Western Canada's top race-riders since he arrived from Barbados late in the old century, found a simple way to improve the racing picture in Alberta: he encouraged younger brother Rico to join him.

"He knows how to win," Rickey said before Wednesday's card at Northlands Park. "He is a good rider already and he's going to get better."

Almost the same words were spoken by the reliable Jake Barton: "You can see the youngster's got something."

Experienced race-watchers say the brothers look almost identical in the saddle. "We sit the same and ride the same, the same everything," said Rickey, a 25 year old who considers patience a big part of his expertise and believes his 18-year-old brother is headed in the same direction.

"It's harder to be patient on the small tracks," Rickey said. "Already, he knows that."

Like his brother, Rico started to ride at 15. Like many other youngsters from Barbados, he learned the trade quickly.

He won his first race almost immediately and then started to hear suggestions he should move to North America.

"Riders in Barbados have to be pretty good," Rickey said. "There's a lot of us doing it."

Quincy Welch and Desmond Bryan have succeeded in Alberta. Patrick Husbands is a hot commodity at Toronto Woodbine. "There are a couple more of us in Vancouver and Winnipeg," Rickey added.

Rico, whose voice is much softer than his older brother's, was careful not to be misunderstood, but made it clear the family connection does not interfere with trying to win. "I'd like to be good enough one day to go to the bigger tracks," he said.

At first, he hesitated to speak of challenges faced by a new rider in a strange land. Later, he pointed to a big one:

"Back home, we ride in the other direction," he grinned. "It took a while to get used to it."

Before Wednesday's card, Rico was in the money with five of 17 mounts while Rickey had been among the top three 10 times in 18 chances. Rico had three winners and Rickey had two.


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