It's all about the ladies...

8 Mar 2021
Auckland Thoroughbred Racing

In celebration of International Women’s Day today, we have rounded up a selection of some of our industry’s legendary female jockeys.

Mystics Women team, Lisa Allpress, Sam Spratt, Danielle Johnson ​celebrating their win in the 2019 Barfoot & Thompson Jockeys’ World Cup


Given the success of women in New Zealand racing, it is hardly surprising that the crowds seen at major racing events these days have a vast female presence.

The Sport of Kings is a glamorous pastime that is enriched and enhanced by the many women who participate in it on a daily basis.

Danielle Johnson

Danielle Johnson is leading the premiership this season with 128 wins (at the time of writing) – more than double of her closest rival on the leaderboard.

She recently reached a major career milestone of 1000 wins – making her just the third female rider in New Zealand to reach that remarkable feat.

Samantha Collett

Sam is sitting in third place in this season’s premiership with 55 wins at the time of writing. The most recent major winner for Sam was Robusto in the Wallen Concreting Avondale Cup 2021 and her latest Group One winner was Roger That in the Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup 2020 – a race she also won the year prior aboard Glory Days.

Lisa Allpress

In 2013, Lisa became the first woman in New Zealand to have 1000 career wins and, at the time of writing, now has more than 1,600 (including 100 international wins).

She has also won four national jockey premierships.

Allpress, 45, was recognised in the 2020 New Year Honours, being made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the racing industry.

Michelle Payne

Michelle Payne made history in 2015 in being the first and only female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup (on a kiwi-bred horse, Prince of Penzance).

Michelle’s extraordinary story has made it to the big screen in Rachel Griffiths’ directorial debut, Ride Like a Girl, with Teresa Palmer as Michelle, Sam Neill as New Zealand-born Paddy (her father), and her brother Stevie Payne as himself.

Joanne Giles (Hales)

Jo was the first Kiwi woman to ride in a totaliser race in New Zealand, on 15 July 1978 at Waimate.

Described as a “jill-of-many-talents”, Jo was tragically killed in the CTV building following the Christchurch earthquake on 22 February 2011.

Linda Jones

The first Kiwi female to win against the males in Australia in 1979.

Linda was later awarded an MBE for services to the racing industry and has also been inducted into New Zealand Racing’s Hall of Fame.

Sue Day (Walsh)

15 July 1978 was the first day New Zealand women, including Sue, were permitted to ride in totaliser races against their male counterparts.

Just a week later, on 22 July, Sue rode into the record books – becoming the the first New Zealand female to win a race against the boys when she guided the Ned Thistoll-trained Jaws to victory in the Waybrook Handicap at Timaru.

Sue went on to marry jockey David Walsh and has gone to become a trainer in her own right.

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