Fab Four: female riders win
RACING: Timing is everything in race riding and four young ladies – Shayla Evans, Trinity Bannon, Carly-Mae Pye and Alisha Taylor – timed it to perfection in Rockhampton last Tuesday.
They are now in the history books as being the first of their gender to ride a program of winners at a provincial TAB race meeting in Australia.
Teenager Taylor, 18, upstaged her peers with three winners – County Sherrif, Fire Hazard and Malicious Girl – with second youngest Pye, 22, doing next best with a winning double aboard Ima Cool Dude and Run The Rapids.
Earlier former Victorian, but now very much a Queenslander, Trinty Bannon, from Mackay, had won the opening race on outsider In Bold Fashion.
The most senior of the group Shayla Evans capped the day, winning aboard Hezzaburraboy.
The jockeys, not all that keen on being categorised by the terms “lady or female” riders achieved their wonderful feat during the week that the Ballina Jockey Club in Northern New South Wales will establish a National Lady Jockeys Hall Of Fame.
Tomorrow, the BJC will run the time-honoured Iris Nielsen Memorial race day in which 15 lady jockeys from throughout Australia and New Zealand will compete.
Club officials there tomorrow will unveil the three initial inductees to the Hall of Fame.
Iris Nielsen was one of the band of lady jockeys who bravely paved the way for the girls by riding successfully against the men in New South Wales in the early eighties.
While Taylor, Pye, Bannon and Evans were not invited to ride at Ballina on Sunday, there is every chance, through their proud feat of last Tuesday, that next year it will be different.
Female jockeys have ridden a card, or program, of race winners previously but never at a TAB provincial meeting.
The first time the feat occurred in Queensland was in Wondai, 10 years ago this March, when Monica Ryan, Jenny Cochrane, Debbie Osborne and Jo Downs shared the seven race laurels.
What makes Tuesday’s feat in Rockhampton so illustrious is that it was shared by two seniors and two juniors.
Shayla Evans, nee Quick, has been race riding for about 13 years while Trinity Bannon has done so for about seven years.
Of the apprentices, Alisha Taylor has about 18 months experience, while Pye is only a few months back from an 18-month lay-off.
The winning ways of Evans and Bannon have been well documented and established while Taylor, now with 53 winners, has also filled scrap books with write-ups.
Pye has shed an amazing 13 kilograms since late last year to make a comeback and prove to race officials that she was dedicated and serious.
A gifted rider, her determination to succeed against the odds of weight and distraction is a credit to her and a shining example of what hard work and commitment can achieve.
Racing in Australia has come of age since 1979 when the industry lifted what, in hindsight, was blatant discrimination against women to allow them to compete against men as professional jockeys.
In Queensland today there are 43 women licensed to ride in professional races from jockeying ranks of about 300.
Racing in this state, and indeed Australia, owes the lady jockeys dearly and the wonderful feat the four achieved in Rockhampton last Tuesday should be given permanent recognition in some form at Callaghan Park racecourse.
Well done girls!
HOOFNOTE: Alisha Taylor will make her race-riding debut in Toowoomba at the twilight TAB meeting there late today.