Celebrating 42 Years of Jockey Equality
On July 15, 1978 four women rode out onto the Trentham and Waimate racecourses to compete against men for the first time in New Zealand history. This was a huge milestone; until 1970 females had been banned from competing as Jockeys at all.
It’s been 42 years since that day and the racing industry is now full of champion female riders. In fact, approximately 45% of New Zealand's current licensed jockeys are female, and all of them earn equal pay to their male opponents - a standard set from that very first race. In honour of this significant milestone, here are seven kiwi female jockeys who have made history:
Linda Jones (pictured above)
Jones was a racing powerhouse both on and off the racetrack. On course, she was the first female jockey to win against males in Australia, ride winners at Ellerslie and Trentham, tied second in the 1978/79 Jockey Premiership and was the first woman in the world to ride a recognised Derby winner. Linda was initially turned down for an apprenticeship license on the grounds that she was ‘too old’ (Linda was 24 at the time), ‘married’ and that she ‘would be taking the earnings from her male competitors.’ Not one to take no for an answer, Linda was the trailblazer who led the campaign for equal rights in horse racing, eventually resulting in legislation being changed to let female jockeys ride against men.
Sue Day (now Walsh)
Day was one of the four initial pioneers who rode out onto the racecourse in 1978 to compete against men for the first time (she was joined by Vivienne Kaye, Joanne Hale and Joanne Lamond). At 21, Day became the first New Zealand female to win a race against co-ed opponents on kiwi soil - a mere week after the first race she was qualified to compete in.
Day however was unable to take the honour of being the first female jockey to salute on New Zealand soil, with Canadian rider Joan Phipps winning at Te Awamatu prior to Day’s victory.
Lyndon was an incredible Jockey with a number of notable accomplishments, both on our side of the ditch and across it; she was the first female rider to win the Adelaide Cup, to win a Group I race in the form of the NZ Cup, win the Auckland Cup and was the first female to ride in the Melbourne Cup.
Cropp was the first ever female to obtain the NZ Jockeys’ premiership, achieving the accolade in 2005 with 194 wins under her belt. A true champion, she went on to repeat this twice more, winning three back to back Premiership titles (the only female kiwi ever to do so).
Kim Clapperton showed promise from the outset, being the first female to win the apprentice jockey title in New Zealand. Her success, however, was not limited to New Zealand soil, with Kim taking out the Malaysia-Singapore premiership in 1993 before becoming the first female jockey to ride in Hong Kong in 1995.
pictured: lisa allpress
In 2013, Allpress became the first New Zealand woman to achieve 1000 domestic racing wins - an incredible victory in a sport that 35 years before didn’t allow female entry in those same races. Alongside this impressive feat, she’s also a dual NZ premiership winner (2012 & 2016) and currently leads the New Zealand jockeys premiership with 87 wins.
Earlier this year, Allpress was invited to ride in the Kingdom Day Jockey Challenge in Riyadh against some of the best jockeys in the world. Lisa created history, becoming the first woman to ride a winner in Saudi Arabia. Allpress however doesn’t identify herself as a female jockey, she is ‘simply a jockey.’
We are proud to celebrate such a monumental anniversary, for both racing and Women's rights - New Zealand has an incredible racing history that is unquestionably strengthened by the phenomenal skill of our female riders.