RACE DAY: Alannah Badger is in good company in being a successful female jockey launch her career at the Gympie racecourse .
RACE DAY: Alannah Badger is in good company in being a successful female jockey launch her career at the Gympie racecourse . Max Fleet

Gympie girls take the reins from male riders

THE part played by female jockeys in the racing industry has escalated from zero to dominance in the space of a few decades judging by the number of female apprentices entering racing.

An illustration of this is seen in race day accommodation for male and female riders.

As has become common, at the last Gympie races, the female riders (7) outnumbered the males (5) and so the females occupied the larger male jockey room relegating the males to the much smaller female accommodation.

The same happened at Gladstone last weekend when the numbers were nine females and five males.

State-wide, 30 of the 68 apprentices are female with 21 out of 44 non-metropolitan apprentices in the state being females.

The girls are well represented at the top of the apprentices premiership lists.

In the city, four of the current top 10 apprentices are females with the ratio being five out of 10 on the provincial premiership list.

In the country apprentices premiership, five of the top 10 are girls.

The Gympie racecourse has launched a long list of female apprentices on to its racing scene and the tradition continues.

Four Gympie based riders, Billie-Rose Derbyshire, Alannah Badger, Kelly Gates and Natalie Summers rode in Gladstone last Saturday with Kellie and Alannah each booting home winners.

Mandy Radecker began her racing career in Gympie and became the first female to win the Brisbane apprentices premiership in the 07-08 season.

Maja Ravenstorf, who rode in Gympie regularly, was the first female to win the QTC Apprentices Cup in 1996.

A Wondai meeting in 1990 was the first occasion when female riders rode the card at a Queensland race meeting.

Wondai apprentice Monica Ryan rode four winners whilst Jo Downes, Debbie Osborne and Gympie based Jenny Cochrane each rode a winner on the day also.

Anxious wait for loan

A SENSE of anxiety seems prevalent in the Queensland thoroughbred racing industry as it awaits important decisions by the State Government.

Chief among these is an approval of a $12 million government loan to the Brisbane Racing Club to enable the reconstruction of the state's major race track, Eagle Farm, to be completed.

The loan is required to complete tunnels under the track to enable on-course stabling to be built as well as commercial development of other vacant areas of the Eagle Farm precinct.

The lack of government urgency in approving the loan was perhaps illustrated by a recent statement from Racing Minister Bill Byrne, that he was "considering the documentation".

With Eagle Farm, the major money earner for racing in Queensland, out of action for more than a year, there has been a downturn in wagering and hence income to racing in this period.

This has led to vague reports that RQ has shown a loss of $11 million for the year with a projected loss of around $20 million for the coming year.

This news has led to speculation that the much appreciated recent boost to prize money across the racing industry may not be sustainable and that cuts may be inevitable.

Unfortunately it seems possible that the fall-out from the greyhound live baiting scandal may have tainted the entire racing industry and crushed the positive momentum recently gained by racing.

With the government slow to approve a $12 million loan, the fate of the $70 million funding promised by the LNP government for the Mary Valley quarter horse racing project has to be uncertain.

The establishment of a completely new code of racing from scratch would seem to be a massive task facing many challenges even under the most favourable circumstances.

One can only wonder if the quarter horse racing project may be left to languish as a "pie in the sky" plan.

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