Iconic woman jockey on her way

BALLINA'S famed Iris Nielsen Handicap for lady jockeys next month and its Lady Jockeys Hall of Fame have gone truly international.

American Julie Krone, now retired but still the world's most successful woman jockey, will be the special guest at the Iris Nielsen meeting on Sunday, January 29, and will be one of two women inducted into the Lady Jockeys Hall of Fame.

The other is Lesley Bellden, one of the true pioneers of the long, drawn-out battles with Australia's racing officialdom to allow women to ride in races against male jockeys.

Krone, the only woman jockey to win an American Triple Crown event, retired in 2004 with 3704 race wins and more than $90 millionin stakes earnings.

In 1992 she became the first female jockey to ride in the Kentucky Derby and the following year she won the Belmont Stakes on Colonial Affair - one of the legs of the Triple Crown.

She also became the first woman jockey to win a Breeders Cup; twice wonsix races in the one day at Meadlowland and rode six winners on the one day at Monmouth Park.

Krone has come out of retirement twice to ride in invitation races for retired jockeys, first at Santa Anita in 2008 and again in September this year at England's famed Doncaster.

Krone won the Doncaster Leger Legends aboard Invincible Hero, the 4-1 fav-ourite, against three former Derby-winning jockeys.

She is a member of the US Racing Hall of Fame and her battles to bounce back to the top of her sport from serious injuries earned her a profile in USA Today which rated her as one of America's toughest sporting heroes alongside Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong and Shaquille O'Neal.

Krone, who lives in California with her husband and daughter, will not ride in the Iris Nielsen but will present the trophy to the winner.