Australian Racing Board proposes claim for female jockeys

By: Mark Mazzaglia
June 29th, 2012

Group 1 winning jockey Nikita McLean has slammed suggestions that female jockeys should be given an allowance to ride against the boys after a proposal has been put forward by the Australian Racing Board.

Tears I Cry

Nikita McLean, who rode Tears I Cry to victory in the 2007 Emirates Stakes, thinks the proposed claim for female jockeys is an insult - photo © Steve Hart

McLean rode Tears I Cry to win the 2007 Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) at Flemington and was appalled to learn of the proposal and Victorian Jockeys Association chief executive Des O’Keeffe said the proposal had no appeal whatsoever and went on to say the successful female jockeys had proven they could compete on an even playing field.

“I ride as good as most of the males and I’m proud of that,” McLean said.

“Why should I get some handout? It’s ridiculous, an insult.”

But prominent female riders Michelle Payne, Clare Lindop and Katelyn Mallyon were happy to accept the decision if it came to fruition.

Payne has been successful at Group 1 level on four occasions, three of them on the Stewart Webb trained Yosei and one for Bart Cummings on Allez Wonder in the 2009 Toorak Handicap (1600m) at Caulfield as well as riding Allez Wonder in that year’s Melbourne Cup.

“It might even things up, because we’re not seen as equals,” Payne said.

“The only people it wouldn’t be fair on are the apprentices.”

“I wouldn’t accept a claim in the bush, but I’d be happy with it in town.”

Lindop is a very accomplished jockey with two Adelaide premierships to her credit and at first had mixed feelings about the proposal but found some advantages for herself and other female riders.

“My first reaction was I’ll take it, but my second is that it’s a bit stupid,” she said.

“Race riding is one of few things in sport where women play on an even playing field.”

“That said, I know I’d get a lot more rides if I had a 2kg claim.”

While apprentice Katelyn Mallyon is still recovering from serious injuries she received at Flemington in May, said she would happily take the extra claim.

The facts show that female riders compose about thirty per cent of the apprentices but fall away to half that number when they hit the senior ranks.

“It’s natural attrition,” O’Keeffe said.

“They have families and some don’t measure up.”

The Australian Racing Board is seeking feedback from jockeys and the owner’s associations on the proposal and chief executive Andrew Harding said no figure had been discussed on the size of the claim but it would be no more than 2kg.

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