When I came across this story of Cory Roberts (printed in The Voice, August 28, 1989) – the young lad with the friendly face, who was on the verge of becoming the first professional black jockey – I was well pleased because I was keen to find black firsts from as wide a variety of occupations as possible. So I thought here is one sport where the presence of black people is certainly not conspicuous, he’ll make a good role model.
Today, however, I have been searching for Cory but can find no trace of him.
Cory Roberts, 17, “the food-loving pint-sized youngster” as he was described by his colleagues, who never puts on weight, was 4″ 8″ tall, and 7 stones 8 pounds in weight, an ideal size for a jockey. He worked his way up from a table hand riding ponies to a competent rider of thoroughbreds in the space of 18 months, according to the article.
Cory was born in Birmingham but moved to Merseyside to live with his foster mother at a young age. From the age of 14 he had set his heart on becoming a jockey. When he left school he went on a Youth Training Scheme (YTS) at a local stable. His ambition, he said, was to ride a Derby winner.
Back then he was ready to take on the country by the reins and become the only black professional currently on the circuit.
But where is he now?
And an afterthought: I noticed that the photographer’s byline was for Leroy Jones-Hemmings. Come forth Leroy!