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She’s long been the lonely, so-called Lady Trainer, but it looks like Gai Waterhouse is finally getting some sisterly back-up.

According to Racing Victoria (RV), more women are involved in Victorian thoroughbred racing than ever before.

There are now 50 female jockeys riding in the state, up 10 per cent from 2004.

Women also make up 24 per cent of all trainers and almost half of stable employees.

For the first time, there were also more female than male jockeys accepted into the RV’s training program this year.

“(Racing) is one of the very few sports where women and men can compete on a level playing field,” RV chief Bernard Saundry said.

“Over the past decade we have worked hard to ensure the thoroughbred racing industry is an Australian sporting leader in gender equality.”

Continuing to grow female participation rates is also a key priority of the organisation’s new three-year strategic plan.

The figures were released in time for International Women’s Day on Saturday when Waterhouse will start the favourite Fiorente in the Australian Cup at Flemington.

Melbourne’s biggest race meeting of the autumn will also feature Nikki Burke as the trainer of Newmarket Handicap runner Unpretentious.

She’s up against Sydney jockey Kathy O’Hara who will ride Va Pensiero.

O’Hara holds the distinction of being one of just five women to ride a Group One winner in Australia.

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