The NHA’s female-bashing in South Africa

The South Africa’s National Horseracing Authority (NHA) has decided to change one of their rules pertaining to female riders by allowing them a lifelong 1.5kg riding allowance, writes JOAO DA MATA.

I hate even writing those words and I am so disgusted that this has happened. Years and years of attempted equality on all fronts, worldwide success and acceptance and South Africa decides to create division. Stupid is as stupid does.

Rachel Venniker, an excellent young jockey in her own right, Champion Apprentice in waiting and (we speak under correction, the only female jockey riding in SA at the moment), has earned the right to be called a jockey, but with this single new rule her right has been eroded and she is now back to being a ‘female’ jockey. ‘Weaker’ than her male counterparts. Not capable of doing what they can do. No matter how much she improves and continues to shine, that 1.5kg allowance will be her achilles heel for the rest of her riding career.

But there is MORE! Like everything else in racing and in particular SA racing, things don’t get thought through. Decisions in the National Horseracing Authority are made by power-besotted individuals and signed off by a weak, disengaged board who are there for showboating, but answerable to nobody. Once the ‘female’ apprentice has ridden rides 60 winners, she is able to continue to claim 1.5 kg, BUT before she has ridden even 1 winner, she only claims 4kg (like all the other apprentices) Should that not be 5.5 kg under new rules?

CHAMPION APPRENTICE… 
but Rachel Venniker’s at the mercy of attention-seeking zealots.

The powers in SA racing have to reconsider this ultimately short-sighted decision, it’s so bad for the game. The inclusion and success of any jockey must come from loads of things like hard work, dedication, luck and talent. Forcing outcome but changing rules and giving certain jockeys an advantage for life is not the answer. There isn’t even a question! Why the hell did they do it?

While it will be unfair to ask Rachel for a comment – she is between a rock and a hard place and will suffer the NHA’s persecutory force if she does speak out against this injustice – her sister Angela Venniker wrote on Facebook: “Another way to penalise (Rachel) when she has worked so hard. It just brings negativity for her now and her name should not be associated with this rule! It is also an insult to any female rider implying that they cannot compete on the same level as men.”

Dead right she is. What would other world-class jockeys like Holly Doyle, Jamie Kah, Hayley Turner, Rachael Blackmore have to say? I guess that, like us, they’d find this preposterous. They’d probably smirk and decline to comment.

Kim Meaker, commenting on the Sporting Post blog, said: “Equestrians have been proudly boasting that their sport is one of very few where in many disciplines men and women compete at the highest level on equal terms for many years. It is shameful that now, South African racing has decided that it should not be so. We are not “female jockeys”, “lady jockeys” or “jockettes”. We have competed alongside our male counterparts, often battling against much negativity and a reluctance of support, and have proved ourselves worthy of our place on the racetrack. We have done that without allowances other than those prescribed across the board to all riders. Frankly, this sex allowance is insulting. No jockey, male or female, wants to be considered to only be favourable to trainers because of their claim. That will happen. No jockey wants to graft to lose their claim only to remain a “claiming professional”. Out of all the changes that could and should be implemented, how did this change take precedence? I can’t even see why it would be in the NHA’s vernacular. A sad decision for sport equality. Now there is a reason to call us “female jockeys”.

Have a great week, despite the insanity described above!  – IRC.

1 Comment

  1. The NHA destroying Racing In every facet of the game Get rid of the whole board and start afresh Our only chance of survival

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