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Picture: 123RF/LUKAS GOJDA
Picture: 123RF/LUKAS GOJDA

While your correspondent, David Mollett, is entitled to express his views on the National Horseracing Authority’s decisions, his latest article lacked objectivity and balance (“Trainers lambast NHA over lifetime sex allowance for female rider,” July 19).

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.

Alick Costa

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