Race dedicated to women riders

CHASING EQUALITY: Sheree Drake, pictured with daughter Kirsty Drake, has been racing for 12 years and has ridden 350 winners.
CHASING EQUALITY: Sheree Drake, pictured with daughter Kirsty Drake, has been racing for 12 years and has ridden 350 winners. Ross Kendall

THE Iris Nielsen handicap offering $30,000 in prizemoney was part of yesterday's nine-race carnival held by Ballina Jockey Club that was dedicated to women riders.

The race honours Ms Nielsen, a local jockey who died while racing in Lismore in 1988.

The event also celebrated women participating in racing generally, club general manager Matthew Bertram said.

Fittingly this year's winner was Tegan Harrison on Hula Girl.

Sheree Drake from Beaudesert was also among the women jockeys competing.

Ms Drake said there still was not enough recognition for women in racing but there had been progress since she started her apprenticeship 12 years ago at the age of 40.

"There are a lot more female jockeys around, you are seeing more and more, and that is bring more equality," she said.


Laika Gordo hangs on to the lead as Fashion Saga makes a dash for the line in Race 3 at yesterday's Ballina   carnival.
Laika Gordo hangs on to the lead as Fashion Saga makes a dash for the line in Race 3 at yesterday's Ballina carnival. Ross Kendall

Racing horses was not an easy life, she said.

"You have to love it, and you have to be tough to take all the criticism from the owners, trainers, punters and the other riders," she said.

Ms Drake took up the sport after helping to train race horses.

"If I could do track work, why not race," she said.

"It took a long time to get, I had to fight for it," she said of her apprenticeship.

Yesterday she rode a fourth place in Race 3, but she has ridden 350 winners over her career.

Daughter Kirsty Drake is following in her footsteps and is doing her jockey apprenticeship.

Topics:  ballina jockey club iris nielsen iris nielsen handicap

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