Day At The Track

Gender inequality a distant memory in the trots

08:09 PM 05 Nov 2015 NZDT
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Kerryn Manning
Kerryn Manning

Trots trailblazer Kerryn Manning will be out to win the race that stops the nation in New Zealand – the NZ Trotting Cup – a week after jockey Michelle Payne became the first Australian woman to win a Melbourne Cup in the gallops.

Manning will climb in the cart behind star pacer Arden Rooney in the $750,000, Group 1 New Zealand Trotting Cup next Tuesday at Addington Raceway, the race a chance for the 39-year-old to notch another milestone and become the first woman to win it.

She already lays claim to being the first person to win 300 races in a single season in Australia or NZ, the first woman to drive a winner in both the Southern and Northern Hemispheres after guiding champion trotter Knight Pistol to victory in Norway in 1997, and last year she was awarded the prestigious Harness Racing Victoria Gordon Rothacker Medal – becoming just the second woman to claim the honour.

Manning, based at Great Western, is thrilled to see so many women in the trots today, the code leading the way for equality in Australasian racing.

“The number of girls in the sport now has tripled at least since I started,” she said.

“There are a lot of girls coming through the ranks … I suppose it’s easier (in the trots) for girls than the gallops.” 

Asked what she thought of Payne’s post-Cup comments about “… everyone else, get stuffed, because women can do anything and we can beat the world”, Manning beamed: “Good on her!”

“Horses sometimes run for girls (better). It’s funny how it works, and sometimes it doesn’t make sense … but some horses just go so much better for some people.

“We’ve got a lot of girls coming through now and they’re doing really well.”

The leading 20 jockeys in metropolitan Victorian gallops are all men, but in the trots it is vastly different with women accounting for three of the top 10 metro driving placings – 25-year-old Amanda Turnbull third overall, with Kate Gath (32 years old) and Manning also on the list.

In the junior ranks it is a similar story, three of the top Victorian 10 concession drivers being young women – Emma Hamblin, Donna Castles and Lisa Bartley.

The Victorian trainers’ premiership also features plenty of women, with Turnbull third overall, while Emma Stewart is seventh and Manning eighth.

On the Victorian trots’ metropolitan trainers’ top 10 table Nicole Molander’s name also features alongside Stewart and Turnbull.

In fact, last season Stewart trained an incredible 48 metro winners – more than anyone in the last decade. And five women – Stewart (first), Molander (fifth), Belinda McCarthy (sixth), Turnbull (ninth) and Manning (10th) – finished inside the top 10 list for metro trainers.

In New South Wales the top two metropolitan trainers this season are KerryAnn Turner and McCarthy, while 22-year-old Lauren Panella – who has been injured for the bulk of this season – won last year’s state drivers’ premiership by panels with 167 victories.

Queensland sees Vicki Rasmussen the leading metro trainer and Chantal Turpin second in the state race, while in South Australia Danielle Hill is absolutely dominating the state premiership with 33 wins, 20 clear of the runner-up.

TAB.com.au has Arden Rooney a $6 third favourite for the NZ Cup on Tuesday, the reigning Hunter Cup champion drawn alongside a horse called Messini, which will be driven by another Australian woman who now resides in NZ, 38-year-old Natalie Rasmussen.
 
CODY WINNELL

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