June 17 The Hague~ The second day of the World Arabian Racing Conference gave a fresh breath to racing as women were honored and their achievements catalogued and issues discussed. Moderator Suzanna Santesson, a horsewoman, jockey, and General Secretary for the Fegentri Cup (Federation Internationale des Gentlemen-Riders et des Cavalieres -Lady Riders), which promotes International races for amateur riders encouraged the panel to tell their experience in Arabian racing.
Kathy Smoke from the United States has raised Thoroughbreds, Quater Horses and Arabians. Smoke has been President of the US Jockey Club for five years, and the first female president in what was a male dominated field. feels that Arabians are intelligent and sensitive and as nurturers, Arabians relate inherently to women. “Arabians have a high sense of self respect,”she said.
Female jockeys are not new in the US, Smoke named numerous female jockeys and named Julie Krone as the first female rider to gain notoriety by wining a Triple Crown race. Also named was Rosie Naproavnik, the single female jockey competing in the 2011 Kentucky Derby. Arabian owners are giving female jockeys top horses,” she said. She also noted that many Arabian owners and trainers are women. “Lynne Ashby from the US has won the the top US Jockey Club Award, six times.” She noted that the number of Arabians is small in the US and a female jockey must take other horses to ride in order to make a living. “We are still struggling,” she said. Many trainers employ women exercise riders as a female generally can make the weight. “Because of the support of Sh Mansoor and this Conference, the tracks are starting to pay attention. People love to bet on our races.”
HE Sheikha Najla Al Qassimi, the Ambassador to the UAE in Sweden and a good example of a successful woman said, “If you look at history you will see that world horse racing saw women’s involvement as early as the 1850s, and then recently in 1940s women were allowed to be trainers and then it was as late as in 1969 women jockeys began to take part.”
The Sunday Dundight edition of the Fegentri Cup for Lady Riders with 11 runners and supported by HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak was applauded as a good start to encourage lady riders in the GCC countries as well as give a boost to the Arabian racing World. Hannie Maasdijk from the Netherlands and a long time resident of Qatar said, “Twenty years ago all the racing riders were male. In 2007 we had the first female jockey race and the owners did not send out their best horses. Now in 2011 the ladies are getting very good horses.
The two UAE riders that will be up on Sunday were top endurance riders in the UAE.
Genny Haynes,Director of the Arabian Racing Organization in the UK, had a career breeding and showing Arabian horses. Citing some issues that Arabian trainers face she said, “In the UK, the Thoroughbred cannot be trained along with the Arabian nor on the same license.” She feels a lot of the problem is due to ignorance. “The issue of Arabians racing and women in racing will take an education.”
Dr. Inge Wijnberg is a specialist in Equine Internal Medicine and said that she had worked with the first woman specialist in equine medicine in the Netherlands when she began practice. “Now the number of women involved is quite large.” She noted that many women excel in equine medicine with the intelligent Arabian horse. “You must listen to them to get the respect and to understand their pain.”
Statistics: 60% of owners in Sweden are women, 40% of the professional riders, there are 25 Arabian barns, 21 owned by females. In 2010 there were 43 jockeys in Arabian races, 19 of them women. Women comprise the largest owner/trainer group in the US.
“We need to mix with the Thoroughbred and the men’s world to show we exist in
the world,” said Festival and Conference director, Lara Sawaya.