Jockeying for position
THEY say three's a crowd, but when it comes to the women jockeys' room at the Lismore Turf Club, that's just about all you can fit.
The tiny space, which was built in the 1970s when female jockeys were few and far between, has become hopelessly outdated.
It has a shower and a sink, but no toilet, and if the jockeys want to go to the loo, they have to use the one normally allocated to the strappers.
The room was bursting at the seams on Saturday when eight or nine female jockeys were trying to squeeze into the space.
Apprentice jockey Gaby Coleman is fully supportive of the Lismore Turf Club's unique efforts to refurbish the room – which include raffling a race horse – but said improvements were long overdue.
“There's just nowhere to put your gear,” Coleman said.
“We have to put our gear outside near the scales or in the shower because we can't fit all the gear in the room.
“We have to jump over each other and jump over the gear to get out, and it doesn't even have a toilet.”
Coleman said the facilities for female jockeys were not up to scratch in many race tracks around the region.
“At least the other places have a toilet, although they are fairly small,” she said.
“The only decent one isat Grafton.
“I can't believe Racing NSW can't do more to improve things.”
Lismore Turf Club needs to raise about $10,000, initially, to get work under way to expand the female jockeys' room.
Always one for innovative solutions, club secretary Michael Timbrell has secured an as yet unnamed two-year-old race horse, which is being raffled off at $20 a pop to raise the necessary funds.
“Some people are saying ‘What am I going to do with a horse'?,” Timbrell said.
“But there are a lot of things you can do with a horse. You can race it with friends and get a syndicate together, or you can lease it to a trainer and see if there are people who want to lease it with the original owners getting a percentage of the prizemoney, or you may want to sell it.”
The horse in question is by first season sire Strada, which was a sprinter that Gai Waterhouse once trained. Her half-brother is Military Secret, trained by former Sydney jockey Mark de Montfort, which has won a race in Canberra and mid-week races in Sydney.
“His sire stallion fee is $10,000 and some of his yearlings have actually fetched $150,000 to $180,000, so he is no mug as a sire,” Timbrell said.
“The raffle winners will get to name her.”
The raffle will be drawn on Lismore Cup day, Thursday, September 23. Tickets are available by contacting the club on 66213176.