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Monday, 21 September 2015


The jockey's cap dates back to the head covering of Roman charioteers. Their fast motion along the racing track, with its repeated turns around the pillars at either end, in itself could cause vertigo. In addition, the rays of the burning sun reflected by the sands of the arena could easily blind them. To avoid this, the Romans added to their bronze head cover the peak. It was this peaked cap which became the modern jockey's headgear.

Alicia Meynell became Britain's first woman jockey in 1804. She rode the odds-on favorite Vingarillo in a race at York, but lost because she was obliged to ride side-saddle.

Frank Hayes (1888–1923) had never won a race before and in fact by profession was not actually a jockey but a horse trainer and longtime stableman. On June 4, 1923 he rode a 20-1 outsider called Sweet Kiss in a steeplechase at Belmont Park in New York State, USA. Hayes suffered a fatal heart attack somewhere in the middle of the race, but his body remained in the saddle throughout. Sweet Kiss eventually crossed the finish line, by a head with Hayes technically still atop her back, making him the first, and thus far only, deceased jockey to win a race.

John Faulkner, the world’s oldest jockey, rode his last race at the age of 74, a steeplechase in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, England. He died on January 25, 1933 aged 104 having fathered 32 children.

On May 8, 1936 jockey Ralph Neves was involved in a racing accident at Bay Meadows Racetrack in San Mateo, California and mistakenly pronounced dead by three different doctors. After a minute’s silence from the spectators his body was removed to a morgue in the nearest town. Neves revived however, shortly after and wearing only a hospital gown took a taxi back to the racetrack where he alarmed the crowd with his miraculous reappearance. He was not allowed to compete in any of the remaining races because of his 'death,'  but rode again on the next day's racing card.

Penny Ann Early (born May 30, 1943) became the first licensed female jockey in the United States in 1968. In protest, male jockeys unanimously refused to ride in the first few races in which Early was slated to appear at the Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky to prevent her from competing.

Barbara Jo Rubin became the first female jockey to win a horse race in the US on February 22, 1969. She rode Cohesian to victory at Charlestown Racetrack in West Virginia.

Bill Shoemaker's 6,033rd victory on September 7, 1970 set the record for most lifetime wins as a jockey (passing Johnny Longden). Win number 8,833, Shoemaker's last, came at Gulfstream Park, Florida on January 20, 1990 aboard Beau Genius. Shoemaker's own record of 8,833 career victories was broken by Panamanian-born Laffit Pincay Jr.; the record is currently held by Russell Baze.

Bill Shoemaker Photograph by Mike Powell, 1986. Wikipedia Commons.

Charlotte Brew, at the age of 21, became the first woman to compete in the Grand National on April 2, 1977.  Her ride, Barony Fort, was an eighteenth birthday gift from her parents. She didn't finish the course as her horse was hampered and refused four fences from home.

Frankie Dettori won all seven races that were on the card at Ascot Racecourse on September 28, 1996. The feat that was previously regarded as unachievable and may never be repeated.

When Michelle Payne won the 2015 Melbourne Cup on November 3, 2015, riding the 100-1 outsider Prince of Penzance, she became the first female jockey to win the event. She was also the fourth woman to ride in the race and was coincidentally wearing the colours of the suffragette movement: purple, green and white.

Source Europress Encyclopedia

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