4Racing’s Tribute To Women In Racing

4Racing, in partnership with the Racehorse Owners Association, will celebrate women’s excellence in the sport of horseracing with a special Women’s Day race day at Turffontein this Tuesday 9 August.

Entry is free from 11h00 and the guest of honor will be South Africa’s only current female professional jockey Rachel Venniker – who has just been crowned the country’s champion apprentice jockey after her impressive 70 winners from 560 rides – and who will have three rides on the day .

4Racing will pay tribute to Venniker at the Turffontein race day, at which all races will honor some of the leading historic female figures in South African horseracing with the main race being the Anne Upton Memorial Handicap, named in honor of the legendary female trainer and former Summer Cup winner who passed away in June this year.

Venniker’s fine racing season and growing popularity is a major drawcard for the sport, while the recent Hollywoodbets Durban July win by respected owner and breeder Mary Slack with filly Sparkling Water was also a major female fillip for the sport.

Slack’s trailblazing mother Bridget Oppenheimer – who was a six-time July winning owner affectionately known as the “Queen Mum” of South African horseracing and who was the first female member at Turffontein – will also be acknowledged on the Women’s Day race day with Race 2 named the Bridget Oppenheimer Maiden Qualified Plate.

Races named after other leading female figures in the sport include South Africa’s first female jockey Genevieve Michel, the first trainer Hilda Knaupp and legendary Nelson Mandela Bay breeder Rose Parker. Other prominent female trainers also honored are Jean Heming and female steward Joan Ruffel.

“4Racing has always maintained that diversity and inclusivity is key to the growth of South African horseracing and we are proud of the many female leaders in the industry who have broken barriers to play prominent and leadership roles in the industry. We are excited to pay tribute to them with the Women’s Day race day and delighted to have Rachel Venniker as our guest of honor on the day, and to acknowledge the pioneering roles played by icons like Bridget Oppenheimer and Anne Upton. We encourage all racegoers to join us on this special day,” said 4Racing CEO Fundi Sithebe, who last year became the first female CEO of a South African horseracing operator.

Ashley Fortune – has done outstandingly well in a short time!

Some of the other female industry figures who will participate in the day are Highveld-based trainers Ashley Fortune and Robyn Klaasen as well as new entrants in the horseracing sector, such as new racehorse owner Jessica Motaung, Marketing and Commercial Director for Kaizer Chiefs.

Motaung and the CEO of Mogul Equine, Desireé De Andrade, jointly purchased a young colt Harold the Duke, who has been racing on the South African circuit.

The Women’s Day race day will be broadcast live on the country’s national horseracing channel Racing 240 on DStv Channel 240.

In the first month of audited Racing 240 viewership figures from data company Nielsen, it indicated a 48.1% female audience of the horseracing channel and nearly 250 000 female viewers of Racing 240.

The Racehorse Owners Association CEO, Natalie Turner, said its figures showed that 67% of new racehorse owners in the country are female, giving credence to the Racing 240 viewership figures.

Racing 240 will focus on prominent women in racing throughout the Women’s Month of August, including interviews with Cape trainer Candice Bass-Robinson, who became the first female trainer to win the Durban July with Marinaresco in 2017.

Top jockey turned television presenter Nadine Low Ah Kee will anchor this special Women’s Day broadcast on Racing 240.

SA Champion Owner Suzette Viljoen, seen with jockey Richard Fourie (Pic – Candiese Lenferna)

Another female powerhouse who will be featured during Women’s Month is top owner Suzette Viljoen, a former South African Champion Owner, whose horses have performed exceptionally this season as she again features prominently in the top three owners on the Equus rankings.

As we celebrate one of the country’s most important public holidays, while paying tribute to the role and contribution of the many influential women in the South African horseracing industry, SA racing remains firmly on track to win the diversity race.

  • Media release by 4Racing on Saturday 6 August 2022

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