Race treads on tribute
THE IRIS Nielsen Ladies Day at the Ballina Jockey Club will for the first time see male jockeys ride in what was originally a female only race.
In honour of female jockey Iris Nielsen who died in a race fall in 1988, the day has long been a celebration of women in racing.
However this Sunday, the race will be an open handicap.
Gold Coast jockey who previously raced in the Iris Nielsen handicap, Laura Cheshire, said the changes took away from the idea the event was a tribute to Iris Nielsen.
"I think they're taking away from the fact the race was dedicated to a female jockey that lost her life racing and the fact it was all females meant a girl would definitely win," Ms Cheshire said.
However, Ballina Jockey Club general manager Matthew Bertram said the changes to the event were due to the large cost of getting all female jockeys to attend the race meet.
"The event is no longer a ladies invitation race as it's more expensive to have all female jockeys travel to Ballina and the club's financial position does not allow us to do that," Mr Bertram said.
Former chairman of Country Racing NSW Stan Hayes was one of the people involved in the instigation of the Iris Nielsen Handicap in 2009 and said the changes to the race were a positive move for the Ballina Jockey Club.
"It will be a better race for the club as a result of opening it up to male jockeys," he said.
"Iris raced against men and ladies and I'm sure she wouldn't have seen anything wrong with other women doing the same."
Another change will see prize money lowered from $50,000 to $30,000 as a result of an administrative decision from Racing NSW.
This comes less than 12 months after the club sought federal funding to assist in a plan to increase the prize money to $100,000.
Fashions on the Field
FASHIONS on the field are one of the most important elements of any race day and this Sunday's Iris Nielsen Ladies Day is set to be no different.
Owner of Candy Lane in Alstonville, Candy Fitness will be hosting Sunday's fashions and said there was a wide range of categories to enter including young fashonista and junior girls, in addition to the usual best dressed lady.
"Fashions are such an integral part to any race day," Ms Fitness said.
"They build fun around the event and women are already picking out their outfits," Ms Fitness said.
Judge of Sunday's fashions, Angela McCormick said she is looking forward to the event.
"The day gives ladies the opportunity to dress up and we're looking for an all over polished look," Ms McCormick said.
General manager of Ballina Jockey Club Matthew Bertram said with 170 nominations for the race, men will also have plenty of variety when having a punt. The Iris Nielsen Ladies Day will be held at the Ballina Jockey Club this Sunday January 19.
Gates open at noon and tickets are $10.