Bernard's Blog: 7 Mar 19

Bernard Saundry
7 March 2019

This week’s release of the Women in Racing survey was timely, given we mark International Women’s Day on Friday 8 March.

The theme for International Women’s Day 2019 is: “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change.” Keeping in line with this, the fundamental goal of the Women in Racing survey is to transform racing’s engagement with women, no matter what their role.

The survey, which can be found here, will examine whether racing is engaging and involving women effectively and what improvements can be made to make a real difference.  All industry participants are invited to participate, and feedback from the survey will help shape the industry’s future.

While there is always room for improvement, New Zealand thoroughbred racing should be proud of the way women are represented among licence holders.

While there was a bit of a rocky start to women being licenced to ride - requiring a stern directive from National MP Marilyn Waring - it is safe to say that once licenced women in this country have not looked back.  More than 40 years down the track they are an important part of the fabric of our industry.

Women are also well represented in New Zealand’s training ranks, with Byerley Park-based Dawn Williams marking a notable achievement this season when she became the first Kiwi woman to train 1000 winners.

Over the past four seasons women jockeys have either won or finished second on the NZ Jockeys’ premiership and, at this stage of the 2018-19 season Lisa Allpress currently leads as she attempts to repeat her premiership winning feat of 2015-16.

What is of interest is how well accepted women jockeys have been in New Zealand compared with other countries.  Late last year France granted women riders an 2kg allowance to encourage trainers to give them more opportunities.  Following on from the apparent success of that move the Japanese Racing Association last week adopted a similar approach. 

Our racecourses no longer have painted lines which divide the sexes on race day, but we realise we can always do better.  I invite everyone, no matter what their involvement in the industry, to take part in the survey and help us “think equal, build smart and innovate for change.”

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