Lisa Allpress became the first female jockey to win a race under rules in Saudi Arabia when she took the opening leg of the international jockeys’ challenge Feb. 28 at King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh on Matmon, a locally trained horse owned by King Abdullah.
The New Zealand-based jockey was one of seven women, including Nicola Currie, to ride competitively in the country for the first time.
While other equestrian sports have long been open to both sexes, the event represented a change in policy in a country that has been heavily criticized over its record on women’s rights.
“I came here with an open mind and had no expectations,” Allpress said. “I’ve never felt like I’m a ‘female jockey.’ We compete against men all the time and can achieve everything they do.”
She finished joint-third in the points-based contest with Mickaelle Michel (15 points). Another female, Swiss rider Sibylle Vogt, who won the last of the four US$400,000 legs, finished second (29 points).
“My idol is Frankie Dettori. I’m so happy I beat him,” she said after finishing ahead of Emma-Jayne Wilson in the final race.
Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith was crowned the top jockey, earning the US$30,000 bonus with two wins.