Late last year in France, the governing body for horse racing, France Galop, decided to allow female riders a 2kg weight allowance EVERY time they rode in a race.
This was for all females, not just apprentices, and the hope was the ladies would receive more rides.
Which has happened.
Now, as of last week, the powerful Japanese Racing Association has followed suit.
That does not necessarily mean it will come here….but what if it did?
The whole idea raises issues for Australian racing not experienced by the other jurisdictions – mainly because we are headed for a riding paradigm shift.
In 2000, for example, 70% of the apprentices enrolled in our Apprentice Schools were male.
Maybe it’s the proliferation of McDonalds, KFC, Subway et al, or quite possibly just because Generation Z (those born between 1995 and 2010) are bigger products than their parents, we are seeing less males enter the riding ranks.
For instance in 2015 the balance had shifted to 50-50 gender breakdown and nowadays there are more females becoming apprentice jockeys than males!
It doesn’t as yet show up in the Group races but certainly in the bush where Gen Y riders are still young and learning their craft, often fields have more female jocks than male.
So if the allowance came here eventually we would, by weight of numbers, more females receiving the allowance than men.
I asked some of our industry peeps their thoughts.
Tommy Berry – champion male jockey said: “No I don’t agree, I think we are all equal. “If we start giving them a claim that will prove a point that they are either not as good or not as strong as us. “I don’t think they want to be thought of in that way.”
Mark Waugh – champion male cricketer, now assistant trainer with Kim Waugh: “Ric, I don’t think it will make much difference if they can’t ride.”
John Scorse – former Gr 1 male winning jock now race analyst: “As long as they stay over there I have no problem, I’m sick of other countries sending apprentices here to learn how to ride at our expense.”
Lizzie Jelfs – female Sky Racing analyst: “Yes I saw this, I’m still thinking about if I like it or not. Doing an interview with Kathy O’Hara soon so I’m going to ask her, so stay tuned.”
No need Lizzie, I already asked Kathy.
Kathy O’Hara – current champion female rider: “It’s an interesting concept.”
Kristen Buchanan – current on-fire female horse trainer here: “Yeah, I’m undecided. I guess they would get more opportunities and I think the girls would love it. “And it would help them, but on principle, I’m not sure I agree with the concept. “Does it not imply they are second rate? And I just feel we’ve caught up with equality already…..Interesting.”
That it is, so I throw it over to the masses: Would you support female riders receiving a 2kg allowance every time they ride in a race?
And keep in mind, fillies and mares already receive 2kg allowances despite the fact mares have proven historically better than males as racehorses in the main – Winx, Black Caviar, Makybe Diva, Atlantic Jewel, Alizee – need I go on.
Plus, right now champion female tennis player Martina Navratilova is in hot water by saying, “We need female only matches and transgender males shouldn’t be allowed to play in them. Otherwise we wouldn’t have female tennis.”
The underlining point there being females are disadvantaged when competing against men. That’s why we don’t have girls playing men in golf, or competing in track and field races against each other, or swimming, or even curling.
The list goes on yet we make females compete on a level playing field in horse racing without any compensation.
This 2kg allowance is seen as a way of levelling the playing field for them.
Or is it?
Have Your Say 🗣: Should female jockeys get a weight allowance? Comment below