Female participation across the racing industry is at an all-time high, on and off the track, and to celebrate Racing Victoria (RV) hosted a galaxy of female sporting stars in the annual Celebrating Women in Sport on Kennedy Oaks Day today, Thursday, 8 November 2018.
Women make up 25 per cent of all Victorian licensed jockeys, and across the country females are achieving greatness, with eight female riders boasting Group 1 wins.
In fact, female jockeys are enjoying more success than ever before with a 16% increase in the number of winners ridden in Victoria during the 2017-18 racing season and a dramatic 75% increase in the number of Saturday metropolitan starters ridden by a female.
This success is inspiring a younger generation with 19 female apprentice jockeys - half of Victoria’s apprentice jockey ranks - hoping to one day emulate Michelle Payne’s history making Melbourne Cup win.
To commend these achievements, and those by females across all codes, racing greats were joined by other sporting luminaries at the Celebrating Women in Sport event, which was created to inspire women to follow their dreams and succeed in sport, including representatives from AFLW, Commonwealth Games, Winter Olympics, basketball, athletics and netball.
Criquette Head, the first female trainer to win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Europe’s most prestigious race, joined Michelle Payne, the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup and Natalie Young, the first female trainer to win the Australian Derby.
AFLW’s leading goalkicker and marquee player Darcy Vescio joined Nicole Livingstone, CEO of AFLW and Olympic swimming gold medallist, to discuss their successes in front of an illustrious group of guests, including a group of some of Victoria’s top female apprentice jockeys.
Government dignitaries were also in attendance, including The Hon Martin Pakula, Minister for Racing and The Hon Natalie Hutchins, Minister for Women, as well as Ride Like A Girl Director, Rachel Griffiths and the first female Chairman of the Victoria Racing Club (VRC), Amanda Elliott.
RV’s Chief Executive, Giles Thompson, said it was pleasing to see so many notable women unite on Kennedy Oaks Day, when the best three-year-old fillies battle for glory in the $1 million Kennedy Oaks.
“Progress and change is occurring in terms of social attitudes about gender equity and we should be proud of the progress being made,” Thompson said. “The success of women’s sport is testament to changing attitudes towards gender equity in general.
“This celebration is an important statement, it recognises the change that is being driven by sport in this country towards a social change where women are treated equally and respectfully, have the same opportunities as their male counterparts and are safe.
“Sport is such a powerful medium and we can influence the rest of society through what we do.”
Other notable attendees at the event included Shane Gould, triple Olympic gold medallist at 15 years of age in swimming and recent winner of the Survivor television series, and Jana Pittman, two-time world champion and Commonwealth Games gold medallist.