Jockey Christine Puls
has been announced as the winner of the Victorian Wakeful Club Lady of Racing Award at a ceremony held today in The Atrium, at Flemington Racecourse.
Puls becomes the 24th winner of the coveted award, which is run by The Victorian Wakeful Club in partnership with Racing Victoria (RV) and aims to celebrate women who have made an outstanding contribution to the thoroughbred racing and breeding industries.
Puls knew she wanted to be a jockey from the age of four, when she would ride sheep around the family arm.
She regularly competes on the metropolitan and country circuits, as well as providing ongoing guidance and support to younger hoops coming through the ranks. Her biggest claim to fame is winning the Group 3 Hobart Cup (2400m) in 2005 on Our Dashing Dane.
Puls claimed the award at a star-studded ceremony which was also attended by her fellow finalists, leading trainer Natalie Young
, retired jockey Clare Lindop
and Claudette Luke
, Financial Manager of the Magic Millions Sales.
The other winners at the Lady of Racing Award Luncheon were: RV apprentice jockey Mikaela Lawrence
, recipient of the Marie McCullough Apprentice Jockey Training Program Scholarship; Emily Schulz
, Racing Assistant at First Light Racing, who was awarded the Mary Martin Polytechnic Scholarship; and Clerk of the Course Remi Gray
, who won the Spirit of Racing Award.
Chairman of the Australian Jockeys Association (AJA), Des O’Keeffe, said Puls is a wonderful mentor to female riders coming through the ranks.
“Christine has been a career jockey, she’s had great longevity with it and she’s hard-working, dedicated and never complains,” O’Keeffe said.
“She’s a really strong mentor to the female riders, and I think she’s had a career she can be incredibly proud of. She has been a support to so many fellow riders, apprentices and females in the industry, and that gives her enormous credit.”
Fellow jockey Chelsea Hall revealed Puls always takes time out from her raceday commitments to help the apprentices.
“Christine always takes time to walk the track, go through our race rides and help with our riding,” Hall said.
“She really goes out of her way to help the apprentices, if someone’s down about their ride she’s always the first one to bring you back up, she’ll pull you aside so you don’t feel embarrassed.”
Country Racing Victoria Chief Executive, Scott Whiteman, believes Puls is one of the unsung heroes in racing.
“Christine is one of those special people out there who is always looking after others, not just her own needs and requirements,” Whiteman said.
“She’s always concerned about her fellow riders, particularly the younger riders.”
The calibre of nominations in this year’s Lady of Racing Award made narrowing down the winner very difficult, according to the President of The Victorian Wakeful Club, Christine Downing.
“As we celebrate our silver anniversary, we are so pleased to see yet another strong woman and great mentor such as Christine be recognised.
“The important thing to remember with these awards, is that celebrate and recognise the contribution of women from all levels within the industry,” Downing said.
RV CEO Giles Thompson, who sits on the selection panel of the award, revealed the quality of candidates was extremely high this year.
“The calibre of finalists this year was very impressive, and all have made a great contribution to racing. On top of her longevity in the saddle, it is Christine’s ongoing mentoring and support of our younger generation right across the state that makes her a deserved winner,” Thompson said.
“Christine is instrumental in inspiring other women to break down the barriers in racing. She joins an impressive honour roll of past winners, and we congratulate her on being named the 2019 Lady of Racing.”
The Lady of Racing Award, established in 1993 by The Victorian Wakeful Club, recognises females who have played a significant role in the thoroughbred racing and breeding industries.
Other notable names at the star-studded ceremony included 2015 Melbourne Cup-winning jockey, Michelle Payne; Racing Victoria Chairman, Brian Kruger; The Victorian Wakeful Club President, Christine Downing; and Amanda Elliott, the Victoria Racing Club’s (VRC) first female Chairman who was named last year’s Lady of Racing.