Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) have launched a series of seven races for female jockeys.
HRI has added four new races to the racing calendar and along with three existing races, will come together to create The Ladies National Hunt Series.
The first race in the series, The Fairyhouse 2020 Ladies Handicap Hurdle, was the feature race at the County Meath track on New Year’s Day and was won by Aine O’Connor on the Edward Harty-trained Spruced Up, owned by JP McManus.
The races, five over hurdles and two over fences, are open to amateurs and professionals and points will be allocated to each rider based on their placings in the races. Double points will be allocated to those riders with less than 10 career wins.
Connolly’s Red Mills will supply the overall winner of The Ladies National Hunt Series with a €1000 spending spree in the redmillsstore.ie and their country living superstore in Cillín Hill in Kilkenny.
The next race in the series is the €20,000 Connolly’s Red Mills Irish EBF Ladies Auction Maiden Hurdle at Gowran Park on Goffs Thyestes Chase Day, Thursday January 23.
The remaining races in the series will take place at:
- Thurles, February 20 (handicap hurdle)
- Fairyhouse, April 11 (Ladies Grand National handicap chase)
- Punchestown, June 7 (handicap hurdle)
- Navan, September 19 (handicap hurdle)
- Fairyhouse, November 9 (handicap chase)
The series comes about after extensive consultation with top amateurs Lisa O’Neill and Aine O’Connor regarding more opportunities for lady riders in Ireland, and Shane Doyle, Race Planning Manager at Horse Racing Ireland heaped praise on the duo.
He said: “Lisa and Aine deserve credit for the great work they have done behind the scenes in putting the proposal forward and Horse Racing Ireland is delighted to provide additional opportunities for lady riders under National Hunt Rules to showcase their undoubted talents.”
Champion lady amateur rider Lisa O’Neill added: “The Ladies National Hunt Series is a fantastic initiative by Horse Racing Ireland to create opportunities to heighten the focus on female riders.
“We have a great bunch of lady riders in Ireland and the seven races will give everyone great exposure, especially high-profile meetings at Gowran Park on Thyestes day and at the Easter Festival at Fairyhouse.”