Thanks to Horse Racing Today
Obsessed Golfer, Aspiring Boxer and professional Jockey Chantal Sutherland is this week’s Player’s Edge Guest. She’ll share her thoughts on her stakes mounts this Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs, and of course more.
It will be another great show with another great guest, don’t miss it. But before we go live on YouTube and Facebook, Chantal was gracious with her time for the following Q&A.
Make Sure you follow Chantal on Twitter: https://twitter.com/jockeychantal
Q&A with Chantal Sutherland
HRT: You grew up in Toronto Canada, how did the days on the farm as a young girl shape you into the woman you are today?
Chantal Sutherland: Growing up in Caledon the rolling hills of northern Canada northwest of Toronto about 45 min in the country was a magical childhood experience. Our family lived on 50 acres, and we had a racetrack in the backyard, and we rode horses, had some cows and my brother and I made forts in the hay loft as kids.
My Sister was a bit older than my brother and myself and she was very serious into showing and riding horses and usually too cool for making forts and playing games with my brother and myself. We were very close and all of us live far from each other now, but we are a tight and close brother and sister relationship and a bond no one can come between.
Incredible memories of the farm my Dad just sold last year that I will hold onto forever, eternally grateful to my parents for the life they showed and gave us and for the beautiful land we played on and trees we made forts in.
HRT: You’ve described yourself as competitive in multiple interviews, where did that spirit come from?
Chantal Sutherland: Being competitive has been instilled at a young age, both my parents were dynamic athletes, my father in hockey and swimming and my mother in tennis. My father’s brother and his sister would pit all the kids against each other in what later turned into the “Sutherland Family Olympics” and as soon as I could form memories, I was competing against my cousins who were older and mostly boys.
There was a lot of yelling and screaming to always “hurry up Chantal” because I was younger, smaller at that time and it was a disadvantage for me. Everything was a competition even blueberry picking at my Uncle Ian and Auntie Judy’s Cottage in Georgian Bay, a magical destination in Northern Canada where you could see the Norther Lights and be eaten by Mosquitos the size of hummingbirds, or at least it felt like that.
One thing I will never forget was the sauna that was natural, and you had to light the fire to get it hot and it sat beside the lake, and we would get so hot and then jump in the cold lake and run back into the sauna, so fun, incredible memories.
HRT: You played field hockey in high school and were very good at it, invited to try out for Canada’s Junior World Cup Team. Describe “your game” and what skills you learned that helped you be a better jockey?
Chantal Sutherland: High school was also the greatest time of my younger childhood and boy was it magical. There is this small boarding school in Northern Canada called Lakefield College School and although small it was bigger than life and right out of a Harry Potter Movie or the likes of Dead Pet’s Society.
The school was my favorite time of my life and that is where I began my love for Field Hockey and went on to play for the Jr World Cup only to let go of an Olympic dream when I played in University and all the girls grew up around me physically and I stayed small. It was then that I was becoming limited, and the game became too fast for me, and I could not hit the ball the way the other women did, that was when I turned to the idea of seriously becoming a jockey.
The number one thing I learned from that level of hockey was from a coach and she always said every day and it seemed like every minute of every practice yelling in all of our ears….. “You Gotta Want it”! It was that or leave. The door was always open for quitters and that was never an option for me, I wanted it and I played, practiced, and dug in at home practicing and silently mentally strengthening my mind that I wanted more than anyone else. The importance of focus, presence and showing confidence to your competitor and always passing the ball and never showing off.
HRT: After winning your first race, there is/was a tradition in the Jock’s Room that we were unaware of, please describe the “tradition” and is it still in practice today?
Chantal Sutherland: Once becoming a jockey and winning my first race there was a silly tradition of putting shoe polish on your body and on your butt, not sure how it started but it ended when I won my first race, sorry to anyone who even liked the thought of that tradition. Looking back, I’m no stranger to changing traditions or rules and making things equal for women and detesting any practice of discrimination at any level to any human.
HRT: GAME ON DUDE changed your life, tell us how?
Chantal Sutherland: Game On Dude or G.O.D was my name for him, he took me to places magical and shocking and I learned and saw beautiful and not so pretty things. He was the greatest sweetest animal I have ever met, beautiful and kind and tougher than nails. He had the fight in him that I had and the determination like he was in the “Sutherland Olympics” making me faster, bigger and the best. Thank you God for this horse and the journey He took me on, forever grateful to him 🙏.
HRT: You left the sport for a while and returned to the track successfully. What do you attribute the success to?
Chantal Sutherland: Leaving Horse Racing was the saddest experience of my life next to my parents’ divorce when I was 13. Sadly, it was too soon and thankfully I made it back and I’m beyond grateful I came back to open arms. Thank you to my horse racing family and community. Having said that I’m sure some of my jockey competitors might grumble at that thought and that kind of makes me proud.
HRT: You are also known from some of your off the track work. How did it make you feel to learn Bo Derek wanted to interview/photo you for Vanity Fair?
Chantal Sutherland: Off the track I was blessed to be exposed to the beauty of Bo Derek and her idea of being in Vanity Fair and I’m eternally grateful for the photo and also always shocked and blush myself when I see it. She explains it best and I do see the art in it and the artist and talent that Bo has for Photography, and I hope she never gives up on that.
HRT: In a recent interview, you mentioned that you box to stay in shape. If you were to get in the ring, which fighter would you say fits your fighting style and why?
Chantal Sutherland: To stay in shape is a life choice and requires discipline but once you have great habits it becomes as easy as driving or walking, the hard part is giving up old habits but once you put the work in and see the results you will never go back, and cheat days become obsolete. My favorites are Yoga, Hot yoga, Yoga Hit, yoga flow, Boxing, and cross fit, and walking with my best friend Mary Putman.
There are many great boxers and I really don’t know enough about boxing at this point to tell anyone what type of boxer I would be like but I do like the phrase “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee” – Muhammad Ali and “it’s not how hard you fall it’s how you get back up” -Rocky and “Lions don’t concern themselves with the opinions of sheep” -my friend Emma Jayne Wilson and not boxing related but a damn good quote.
HRT: You’ve been an ambassador for women in the sport. Outside the US, there are more women involved in the horse racing business. What would you do to bring more women into horse racing in the states?
Chantal Sutherland: How to bring more women into the sport of horse racing, I’m still trying to figure it out, maybe another series of Jockeys or Luck or a new movie 🍿 my first book that will hopefully be a major motion picture one day?
HRT: Finally, you said “I hope to be remembered as a very good jockey.” When you reflect on your career, how do you think of yourself as a jockey?
Chantal Sutherland: Being remembered and the legacy I leave is to be a good jockey. Well, I think I can say with confidence that I achieved that, and I believe I have been gifted to be able to listen and hear the horses and feel them as well as being incredibly athletic naturally and have that sense of urgency and competitiveness. Deeply I believe kindness and the love I can show them even for that brief post parade makes 99% of them want to run for me….whether it’s true or not it is what I believe and that has become my reality, and I’m so grateful.