Vet­eran jockey Vas­sell Na­jair’s wife copes with his pass­ing


John Holt’s song ‘I Want A Love that I Can Feel’, will for­ever be etched in the mind of Janet Na­jair, the widow of vet­eran jockey Vas­sell ‘Jol­ly­man’ Na­jair, who died on Oc­to­ber 8 from in­juries he sus­tained af­ter he was hit down by a get­away horse on Septem­ber 26 at Cay­manas Park.

Janet, whose 34-year mar­riage to Na­jair pro­duced three chil­dren: Na­talie, Novia and Orville, said she has lost ev­ery­thing since the death of her hus­band.

“I can’t tell you how much it has im­pacted me,” she said. “I have not eaten, I have not slept un­til just re­cently. When I saw him ly­ing in that bed at the hos­pi­tal like that, with these tubes all over him, and know­ing that he was a very ac­tive per­son who doesn’t like re­stric­tions, it re­ally broke my heart,” she said.

“It is like three quar­ters of my life is gone be­cause we did ev­ery­thing to­gether, we were in­sep­a­ra­ble. When­ever I am away and he is here, he would call me ev­ery morn­ing as soon as his eyes are open and be­fore he goes to bed, he would call me and we would say our prayers to­gether,” said Janet.

She said Vas­sell called her on the day of the ac­ci­dent, and told her that he was go­ing to the track and that he was go­ing to call her as soon as he gets back.

“He called me about 10:30 in the morn­ing and he said he was cook­ing callaloo, and when he gets back from the track he was go­ing to cook the food to go with the callaloo,” she said. “The other thing he said to me is that he is not rid­ing, but he will be rid­ing on Satur­day, but I am go­ing over there to see what I can do and I said to him make sure that you lock up the place (house) prop­erly be­cause you don’t know what can hap­pen,” Janet said.

“How­ever, I didn’t know that was the last con­ver­sa­tion we would have,” she re­calls. The irony of it all, what he was do­ing that caused him his death, was try­ing to help a horse that was run­ning loose and his last words that he said to some­one be­fore he ran off to help the horse, was that I have to try and help that horse be­fore it hurt him­self or hurt some­body else. You see how ironic it is, that is the horse that killed him,” she said.


The cou­ple, who has been to­gether for over 40 years, first met when both were liv­ing in Cen­tral Vil­lage in Kingston, while Janet at­tended the St Cather­ine High School and Vas­sell, an ap­pren­tice at the late Eileen Clig­gott sta­ble.

“The first time we went out, John Holt song was play­ing, which said I Want A Love I Can Feel and that is our song un­til this day,” she said. “He also said to me from the first time I saw you, I knew that you are go­ing to be my wife.”

Janet added that Vas­sell was a very lov­ing and kind per­son, who was al­ways will­ing to help the needy.

“He is the kindnest per­son ever,” she said. He would give you his last and then he would come home and say to me, ‘Mommy I don’t have any more money left in my pocket, be­cause I gave it away.’ I would say to him, ‘Why you gave away ev­ery­thing?!’ and he would say to me ev­ery­body have to eat food, so don’t worry about it be­cause to­mor­row, we will have more again,” said Janet. “I have lost my best friend. He was my hus­band, but he was also my best friend, so I have lost ev­ery­thing and I am just liv­ing.” Na­jair was laid to rest yes­ter­day at the Mead­owrest Me­mo­rial Gar­dens.


Janet Na­jair (cen­tre) and chil­dren Orville (left) and Na­talie re­flect on the life of hus­band and fa­ther Vas­sell Na­jair. The jockey passed last month be­cause of head in­juries re­ceived af­ter he was tram­pled by a run­away horse at Cay­manas Park in Septem­ber.

Vas­sel Na­jair aboard RAS EMANUEL

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