FEMALE JOCKEYS RIDE THE CARD AT MOUNT GAMBIER ON SUNDAY
THE stocks of Australia's female jockeys continue to rise after an extraordinary afternoon of racing at Mount Gambier on Sunday.
ADAM PENGILLY reports for FAIRFAX MEDIA that in the latest example of how the balance in the Australian riding ranks is slowly shifting, female jockeys accounted for the winners of all eight races on the South Australian programme.
Three-kilogram claiming apprentice Emily Finnegan stole the show with a treble of winners - including the last two races - as Clare Lindop and Holly McKechnie also bagged doubles. It was Finnegan's first ever hat-trick of winners.
Lindop is arguably Australia's highest-profile female jockey as the first Australian female to ride in a Melbourne Cup, five years before she won the Victoria Derby.
Finnegan's fellow apprentice Chelsea Jokic was the other victor in the opening race.
In total, eight female riders were in action at Mount Gambier - less than the amount of male counterparts engaged at the same meeting.
The percentage of female riders setting up shop in jockeys rooms around Australia has increased in recent years and the popularity of a career in the saddle has only heightened their push into the apprentice ranks.
IT’S GROUNDHOG WEEK - LET'S CELEBRATE AUSTRALIA DAY ON THE FIRST TUESDAY IN NOVEMBER
BY JOHN LINGARD
ITS 'Groundhog Week' and I’m back on one of my favourite hobby horses declaring how much more appropriate it would be to celebrate Australia Day on the first Tuesday in November rather than the 26th of January.
Anzac Day and Melbourne Cup are the two collective days on the Australian calendar that unite our people more than any other. For many one begins with darkness and remembers great losses, the other ends in darkness trying to forget great losses.
Both capture elements of the larrikinism and egalitarian impulse that are embedded deep within this nation’s unique spirit.
All of which again raises the perennial questions: ‘Why is Cup Day, one of our quintessential annual rituals, not a national public holiday? And, what could be more appropriate than celebrating Australia Day on the first Tuesday in November?
The wowsers and cultural wankers continue to insist that we should not tell the world how strongly we feel about a horse race. That’s bullshit! There can’t be too many events more Australian than the Melbourne Cup – so what better time to celebrate our national day?
Australia doesn't have many traditions. Attempts to get Halloween off the ground have stalled due to one too many home-owners telling ankle-biters to ‘piss off.’ Australia's equivalent of America's Thanksgiving Day is Australia Day on January 26, commemorating the landing of the First Fleet of convicts in Botany Bay.
One could argue that there is much more emotional resonance in celebrating pioneering pilgrims who broke bread with the natives than there is in celebrating criminals that stole bread and were duly hung or consigned Down Under as convicts.
Needless to say, Australia has no tradition of putting the old ball and chain on our legs, and subsequently walking us down the street in tribute to the founding fathers. Likewise, Australia has no statues of the pioneering convicts holding up their shackled wrists in triumph!
Whilst many national days around the world involve citizens reflecting on the achievements of the ancestors that they have not personally lived up to, Australia’s national day involves citizens acting in a vastly superior way to the people that the date acknowledges.
Many believe that the 26th of January is an inappropriate date for Australia Day as it merely represents the arrival of the British to establish the penal colony of New South Wales. Others believe it insults the ‘rightful owners of our land – the indigenous population.’
They argue that it does not represent the birth of a nation. Which brings me back to my original point – when you consider that Australia’s top three heroes are a cricketer, a racehorse and a bushranger – perhaps it is fitting that the only time the nation stops as one is to commemorate our war heroes and to have a wager on the Cup.
In the satirical publication, ‘The Punch,’ David Penberthy once wrote: ‘It’s the kind of thing that would get you pelted with stones in the town square in less civilized countries. So as a celebration of our freedom I’ll say it. ‘Australia Day is a load of rubbish.’
And it is increasingly celebrating the worst aspects of our national character, where rather than being a day for thoughtful reflection on our history and our values, it’s starting to look more a half-witted contest to see how much meat you can eat and how much grog you can sink.
This isn’t a wowser’s warning against barbeques and beer. Far from it! I’m not a keen supporter of binge-drinking but I’ve never met a meat product I didn’t adore. Yet, as the basis for a national holiday, getting plastered, while standing around a four-burner which is groaning under the weight of calcified chump chops, seems to place us well down the order of intelligence.
For many this is what Australia Day has become, and all it will ever be.
A piss-up, where the closest we get to a consideration of what makes us who we are is to slur that this is God’s own country, an absolute bottler of a joint, you wouldn’t be dead for quids and yeah, while you’re near the Esky, can you get me another one?
Even the Federal Government’s Australia Day campaign is framed around the banal idea of cooking meat, with advertisements featuring Soviet-style imagery of buffed young Aussies proudly holding meat trays, urging us to ‘Barbeque like you have never barbequed before.’
The creators of the advertisement would argue that it’s a self-deprecating comic device to make people curious about Australia Day, to find out about Australia Day events in their neighbourhoods and towns, and to think about what the day means to us all.
But my concern is that many Australians are stuck at the first hurdle and can’t get their minds past the chops and the VB.
The two things which should be the focus of this national day – reflection on our history and values, and the importance of holding citizenship – are being shoved aside as we treat Australia Day like one big ‘barbie’.
And for every group of kids who use it as a chance to proudly and peacefully drape themselves in the flag and parade along the esplanade – indifferent to the fact that they’re demonstrating national pride with an emblem that’s sullied by another country’s ensign – there’s a few rat bags who imbue the practice with pushiness and hostility. As if failure to fly the flag or join the moronic ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie,’ chant is tantamount to treason.
Even its name – Australia Day – implies that it’s an uncritical celebration. It suggests nothing other than our sheer luck at being here. To underscore its true purpose, I reckon we should think about changing its name to Citizenship Day.
This would not only help put some distance between its dreadful symbolism for Aboriginal Australians who will never feel inclined to celebrate anything on the day that their country was invaded.
It would also bring more focus for those of us who were born here, and those who came from elsewhere and have taken out citizenship.
And, most importantly, for the thousands of permanent residents who have not demonstrated their commitment to the country, it would signify that being a citizen and signing on to our democratic values is the cornerstone of life in Australia.
Whatever money is currently being spent on those Australia Day barbecue advertisements should be redirected to a new campaign urging resident non-citizens to show their loyalty by signing on as Australians. After which they are obviously free to have as many snags and as much beer as they want.’
Certainly food for thought but for me and my mates no Australia Day would be complete without a punt – and there are plenty of opportunities whether you want to head to the track, the local pub or club, or just enjoy a barbie at home and watch them go around on the box.
There are race meetings for the traditionalists - four Black Type races at Sandown in Melbourne, including the Blue Diamond Preludes and at Canterbury in Sydney and the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. Those looking for something different can head to the extremely popular OZ day attraction at Hanging Rock in Victoria.
How much more Australian can you get than Hanging Rock? No racecourse in the country attracts more non-race day visitors than the Rock. The scene of a book and a film draws tourists from throughout the world.
Racing at Hanging Rock is a tradition with some families over generations that never attend races elsewhere. They make the annual pilgrimage each year rain, hail or shine and it has become a way of life for many.
There are no rituals that everybody undertakes on Australia Day although some of us would argue it should include our national past-time of at least a small punt. People will celebrate with family and friends, at home, in parks, in the surf, watching and playing sport.
Very few will be able to articulate anything about why we should celebrate Australia Day on January 26th, let alone move the holiday to that first Tuesday in November.
To finish off this OZ Day piece I felt it would be timely to run Banjo Patterson’s ‘The Man From Snowy River’ but decided instead (in the true spirit of those who love the Aussie, Aussie, Aussie theme) to go with this little gem (my apologies to the purists).
MATE, HOW UNAUSTRALIAN IS THAT?
If you can't kick a ball or you can't hold a bat.
If you don't know where the Dog on the Tuckerbox is at.
And you look at Elle Macpherson and don't get a fat.
Mate, how un-Australian is that?
If one of your heroes is not Stuie Diver.
And you don't curse in your car, ‘bloody Asian driver’.
If you don't fling ciggie butts whilst driving your car.
And you don't begin each answer with the words, ‘yeah, nah’.
Mate, how un-Australian is that?
When you let one rip, do you blush and say excuse me?
Do you use a tissue in the car and leave the ocean for a wee?
Or worse still, does Richie Benaud put you to sleep?
You probably watch SBS and don't have a tatt.
How un-Australian is that?
If Horizon 50s and Longbeach aren't your favorite choof.
If you watch Dancing With the Stars cos you don't mind that poof.
Do you eat sushi and sashimi cos you're watching your weight?
Do you not crap yourself when your girlfriend says ‘I'm a bit late’?
Worse still when she's not home do you play with her cat?
Mate, how un-Australian is that?
Do you not raise your voice and do you always admit when you're wrong?
Are you one of those bastards who knows the second verse to our national song?
Don't tell me you wash your hair and your stomach is flat.
Mate, how un-Australian is that?
ENJOY A PUNT ON OUR SPECIAL DAY EVEN IF IT SHOULD BE THE FIRST TUESDAY IN NOVEMBER BUT SPARE A THOUGHT AND A DOLLAR OR TWO FOR THOSE LESS FORTUNATE THAN YOU ARE – OR THINK YOU ARE.
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'SILKS AND SADDLES' with TERRY BUTTS
SILKS & SADDLES is a popular weekly column written by respected racing writer TERRY BUTTS that we run courtesy of one of Australia’s leading rural newspapers, the NORTH QUEENSLAND REGISTER. Butts is an old-style racing journalist who shoots from the hip and takes no prisoners. He resents the 'suck-up and survive' mentality of some of the new breed of racing journalists in the print and broadcast media.
GO RACING in AUSTRALIA or OVERSEAS
WE will provide on a regular basis an upgraded list of the centres and holidays we believe are the best for racing folk to holiday whether they are just down the road, interstate or overseas. At times we will also provide some good racing holiday packages and tips.