Sister act for Ballina
By ADAM HICKS
IT is only fitting that with two ladies' races on the card, that two sisters have come to ride in them.
Jockey sisters Kathy and Tracy O'Hara are among 14 female jockeys travelling to Ballina to ride in the dual $10,000 Coolmore Iris Nielsen Ladies Invitational Cups (1300m) this Sunday.
Postponed from September because of equine influenza, the race was set to honour the memory of jockey Iris Nielsen, who was killed while riding in a race at the Lismore Turf Club 20 years ago.
But such was the popularity of the race it attracted 32 acceptances and forced organisers to split the race.
Speaking from stables at Randwick racecourse, Kathy O'Hara, the darling of Sydney racing, said she was excited to be riding at Ballina for the first time alongside her sister.
"They invited me up for the girls' race and obviously I am going to support that," she said.
"I've never ridden in a ladies' race before. It's an honour to be asked."
Older sister Tracy said the ladies' race was a great incentive for women riders.
"I'l certainly ride in any ladies' race just because there are a lot of girls coming up at the moment and it shows them that we are good riders and can do the same as the men," Tracy said.
Tracy is based at Armidale where she studies primary school teaching but still rides at tracks around the State to help fund her education.
"One day I hope to combine them both; teach through the week and ride of a weekend," she said.
The ladies' race is also a good chance for the sisters to catch up.
"I try to catch up with her but it's hard when she's in Sydney and I'm in Armidale," Tracey said.
"When I'm not in classes or on the track, she's riding in races.
"We do ride against each other occasionally.
"There is always rivalry and competition in a way but you end up treating her as another jockey who you want to beat home."
The 14 jockeys are the cream of the female riders from the eastern seaboard of Australia.
Each jockey's ride in the race was determined by ballot.