Newly crowned SA Champion apprentice rider Rachel Venniker will make history at Hollywoodbets Greyville today when she becomes the first female rider in South Africa to utilise a recently legislated 1,5kg sex allowance.
The very talented Rachel has 4 rides on the polytrack card today and could be worth following.
The recently amended rule 54.14 states that in the case of a female Apprentice, the allowance shall be 4Kg until the end of the racemeeting in which the Apprentice has ridden her 20th winner; thereafter the allowance shall be 3Kg until the end of the racemeeting in which the Apprentice has ridden her 40th winner and thereafter 2Kg until the end of the racemeeting in which the Apprentice rides her 50th winner. Thereafter there shall be a permanent female sex allowance of 1,5Kg for the remainder of her riding career.
The introduction of the rule attracted heated debate on this platform, with many clearly finding it offensive.
In a recent letter published on Business Day, former NHA Chairman Alick Costa launched into journalist Dave Mollett, suggesting the vetran media man’s article on the subject ‘lacked objectivity and balance’.
Read that here – Trainers lambast NHA over lifetime sex allowance for female rider.
Mr Costa wrote that the amended rule of a 1.5kg “sex allowance” is for all female jockeys, not just for Rachel Venniker. Furthermore, Venniker is not a jockey yet. Although she is no longer entitled to an apprentice claim, she is still an apprentice for about another year.
Venniker will be the apprentice champion shortly, and she is a talented rider. It is irrational for trainer Tony Rivalland to attack the rule because “it is an insult to Venniker”. I venture that if Venniker was an unsuccessful rider there would have been no outcry. It is a classic case of the silence of the many being drowned out by the noise of the few.
Mollett asks: “Whatever happened to gender equality?” Gender discrimination is unlawful unless it is fair. This rule is fair. Mollett has failed to point out that the rule applies to all races except “black type” races and restricted sales races. There are indeed female jockeys named by Mollett in other countries who have been, or are, successful without a sex allowance, but they are few.
Mollett failed to point out that there are no female jockeys at present and for many years now in SA, and he fails to deal with why the rate of attrition among female apprentices and jockeys is so much higher than male apprentices and jockeys, and why the racing careers of female jockeys is on average eight years and that of male jockeys on average 35 years.
Mollett simply ignored this, and the answers given by the NHA in its press release explaining the rationale for the amended rule. The core issue is the lack of opportunity for female jockeys, who have been denied equality of opportunity in terms of numbers and quality of rides by an anti-female bias. France (albeit the only other country) likewise has a 1.5kg allowance for female jockeys, and the France Gallop has been proved right in introducing the allowance for the reasons advanced.
The rule is designed to ensure transformation of the jockey ranks and will hopefully have the effect of growing female participation, thereby creating sustainability of their participation. The amendment has followed due process, which includes ample consultation.
The plan is to attract, promote and retain female jockeys. I congratulate the management and board of the NHA on the introduction of this enlightened, fair and just rule, concluded Costa.
The first race today is off at 12h30.
Rachel rides in races 2 (American Style), 3 (Name Of The Game), 4 (Running Rifles) and 6 (Track Commander).