Charlotte O’Beirne (left), Lisa Allpress, Rosie Myers, and Leah Hemi made it a clean sweep for female riders at Tauherenikau’s meeting last week. Photo: Tony Kim
The law of averages might take another beating at Riccarton Park this weekend.
For there is a good chance that a female jockey will win the New Zealand Cup for the eighth successive year!
No female jockey has won a New Zealand Derby but the force has been with the females in the New Zealand Cup.
The trend began early, with Maree Lyndon becoming the first female rider to win a Group I race in New Zealand when successful in the 1982 New Zealand Cup, on Sirtain.
That was the first of 11 New Zealand Cup wins for female riders, with the last seven in succession. In addition, women riders have ridden two of the first three placegetters in each of the last five years.
The New Zealand Cup no longer has Group I status but is highly popular with punters and the remains a prized trophy.
The female domination does not reflect the respective opportunities and there have been more male riders than female in each of the past seven years.
This was most marked in 2012, when only three of the 18 runners had female jockeys. Lisa Allpress still won the race, on Blood Brotha, and Kelly McCulloch (nee Myers) finished fourth, with Kylie Williams unplaced.
There were just six female riders in a field of 17 last year but Sam Spratt and Rosie Myers provided the quinella.
Spratt, who will partner topweight Kaharau on Saturday, has been successful in the last two years, on Gobstopper and Bizzwinkle. Lisa Allpress has also won the race twice and Kelly McCulloch has won the race three times.
The other women to ride a NZ Cup winner have been Rosie Myers, Lee Rutherford and Jan Cameron.
Eight women – Spratt, Leah Hemi, Rosie Myers, Sam Wynne, Allpress, Williams, Sam Collett and Tina Comignaghi – have mounts in Saturday’s Cup and the favoured pair of Duplicity and Dee And Gee will have female riders.
Myers will ride the favourite, Duplicity, who finished second last year and recorded a good trial for the 2019 Cup when winning the Metropolitan Trophy (2500m) last weekend.
The New Zealand Cup has been a good race for the Myers family. Rosie, who is Kelly McCulloch’s sister, has had a win, two seconds and a third from her last six rides in the race and her win came on Spring Cheer, trained by her uncle Kevin Myers.
Lisa Allpress, last season’s premiership winner, will partner Korakonui for Cambridge trainer Ralph Manning. Victory for Korakonui, who produced an encouraging run in the Feilding Cup at her last start, would give Manning with his fourth win in the race.
Manning, who is probably better known as the trainer of champion mare Seachange, was just 23 when he prepared Oak Vue to win the 1986 NZ Cup and has also been successful with Laud Peregrine (1997) and Pump Up The Volume (2016).
Kaharau will not have an easy task, with 58.5kg, when he attempts to complete a Cup hat-trick for Spratt. Kaharau ran third in the 2017 New Zealand Cup but has been unplaced in his three other starts at the distance.
Hemi will be reunited with Wellington Cup runner-up Dee And Gee on Saturday. Hemi had the mount when Dee And Gee was beaten a nose by Gorbachev in the Wellington Cup but has ridden the horse only once since.
Collett will team up with Waverley mare Soleseifei, who was ridden by Allpress when third, behind Duplicity and Dee And Gee, on the first day. Soleseifei ran second over 3200m at Trentham two years ago and finished a distant third in the NZ St Leger (2600m) at Trentham in March. The seven-year-old is bred to go over ground. Her sire, Shocking, won a Melbourne Cup and her dam is a half-sister to Sydney Cup winner Gallic.
Wynne will ride Diorissimo, who has yet to win in open company but has had several placings and has rarely been unplaced over a middle distance.
Williams will partner Pamir, who has improved with maturity after taking 17 starts to record her first win. The Raise The Flag mare won the Hokitika Cup in January and ran fourth in the Dunedin Gold Cup (2400m) at her next start.
Comignaghi rides longshot Savapak who has been well beaten at his last two starts.
The New Zealand Cup had Group I status till 1985, when it was relegated to Group II for three years. It regained Group I rating from 1988-90 before being relegated to Group II again. It has been a Group III race since 2009.