Girl Power

Photo credit: Danielle Chloe Potts.

The racing world is full of female achievers. Here are some to watch out for.

Back in the day, racing was a man’s world, with females battling to break into the boys’ club. But now they’re excelling in all areas of the sport.

Female jockeys are often at the front of the pack – and with women comprising 27 percent of Australia’s 800-plus professional hoops, you’ll start to see more of them in the winner’s enclosure.

Thanks to her ride to victory on Prince of Penzance in the 2015 Melbourne Cup, making her the first woman to ride a winner in that great race, Michelle Payne is now a household name. She’s a tough cookie, too – at time of writing, she was still on a break from racing while recovering from an injury from a fall. We suspect this determined woman will be back in the saddle as soon as she’s allowed.

Clare Lindop, one of the most accomplished jockeys in Australia, was the first female to ever compete at the Melbourne Cup when she rode Debben in 2003. She’s since been back in it twice, and also won the VRC Derby in 2008, aboard Rebel Raider. In her two-decade career, she has ridden over 1,200 winners.

Kathy O’Hara is another skilled, resilient rider. After her first big win in 2007 on Aunty Betty in the Birthday Card Stakes, she went on to win her first Group 1 in the 2012 Coolmore Classic with Ofcourseican. She broke her collarbone and punctured a lung during the 2016 Autumn Carnival when she fell from Single Gaze in the Australian Oaks, but has made a full recovery.

Other great names to watch on the track are Linda Meech, Katelyn Mallyon, Tegan Harrison, Jamie Kah, Nikita Beriman and Lauren Stojakovic.

Everyone’s heard of legendary trainer and ‘first lady of racing’ Gai Waterhouse, who was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2007, and was the first Australian woman to train a Melbourne Cup winner (Fiorente, 2013).  And now more women are following in her footsteps. One of Australia’s most successful younger trainers is Sydney’s Gabrielle Englebrecht, a good friend of Michelle Payne and the power behind horses such as the promising three-year-old sprinter Cannyescent, certain to be one to watch this spring.

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