Ladies day at Lismore Turf Club
IT'S ladies day at Lismore Turf Club today. Not for the punters, but in the mounting yard and on the track.
The burgeoning crop of young lady jockeys on the Northern Rivers racing scene sees no less than six female apprentices booked to ride at the Prime Television Cup meeting today.
In comparison there are just four male apprentices.
Sky Racing presenter, Gary Kliese, who is a three-time Northern Rivers champion hoop and mentor to apprentices from Taree to the Tweed, puts the rise of the lady jockey down to one thing – dedication.
“The girls these days are living and breathing racing,” Kliese said.
“You have got to be dedicated in this game and the girls are giving it their all to make a living.
“They are equally as good as the men. I take my hat off to them.”
Gabrielle Coleman (seven rides), Emily Kehoe (six), Sam Munro (six), Priscilla Schmidt (five), Amy White (three) and Kacie Stanley (one) are all being rewarded for their continued effort with support from trainers and owners.
“The winner Gaby rode the other day at Casino (Threeofus for master, Terry McCarthy) was as good as I've seen her ride; Sam Munro is going great guns; and Priscilla is a true professional,” Kliese said.
“And Emily Kehoe, some jocks could do well to sit and look at how she went as far as she could down here, but then upped the ante and went another step further to Brisbane.”
Kliese, who spends as much time in the jockey rooms lending his expertise as he does on air for Sky, believes that the female jockeys could even outnumber the males in the future.
“They could go straight past them,” he said.
“Don't get me wrong; I'd love to see another six boys down here learning the trade, but at the moment we are getting a constant supply of girls.”
There are still plenty of young boys joining the ranks, but on the whole Kliese sees a better attitude from the females.
“The girls ask for help, they don't give cheek,” he said.
Kliese might drive from Taree to Grafton to Taree to Tamworth to Lismore in a five-day period – he is qualified to talk about dedication.
He talks passionately about helping young jockeys fulfil their potential and is saddened when they don't.
He uses Grafton apprentice Ben Looker as an example.
“Benny has the talent to be one of the top jockeys in the land,” he said.
“But he needs to be more dedicated. A couple of months ago he had a shot in the Gai Waterhouse stable in Sydney but couldn't make it work.
“Then you have a kid like Bradley Wallace who gives it his all every day.
“The lifespan is short for a jockey – these kids need to make the most of their chances.”
Looker (five rides) and Wallace (four) will be in Lismore today and Kliese will be first to congratulate them when they pull the right rein.
But they will need to be rested, studied, and at the top of their game to put one over any of their female comrades who are certain to be riding to their full potential with every opportunity they get.