Racing Victoria (RV) extends its condolences to the family and friends of Pamela Baker on the passing of a much-respected and highly influential member of the Australian racing industry.
Baker blazed a trail for female riders in the 1970s when she fought to have women licensed and trained as professional jockeys, following a meeting with the Victoria Racing Club (VRC) secretary, Rodney Johnson.
Backed by the sports minister of the time, Brian Dixon, apprenticeships eventually were made available to females as well as males and Baker formed, and became president of, the Lady Jockey's Association in 1972.
In August 1974, the first professional race was run for women at Casterton and the Lady Jockey's Association had 45 members.
In 1979, Linda Jones and Pam O’Neill became the first women to be officially licensed to race against male jockeys at the highest professional levels, leading the way for Michelle Payne to become the first female jockey to win the iconic Melbourne Cup in 2015.
RV Executive General Manager, Racing and Participant Wellbeing, Greg Carpenter said, “Pamela was a trailblazer for female riders and paved the way for female jockeys today.”
“Racing Victoria is proud that 50% of riders currently in the Apprentice Jockey Training Program are females.
“There was a 75% increase in the number of Saturday metropolitan starters ridden by a female in the 2017-18 racing season and these achievements have been made possible, in part, by Pamela and her determination to provide opportunities for female riders in the 1970s.
“On behalf of Racing Victoria, I extend our sincere condolences to Pamela’s family and friends on the sad passing of a valued member of our industry.”
Executive Officer of the Victorian Jockey Association (VJA), Matthew Hyland, said: “The VJA is saddened to hear of Pamela’s passing. She was a true trailblazer for women in our sport and paved the way for so many talented female jockeys who ride today.”