Linda Jones

A Hard Road to get a Chance

Linda Jones was born in Auckland New Zealand. She started a long and hard battle for the right to compete alongside men in professional thoroughbred horse races.  In 1976 she became the first woman in NZ to apply for an apprentice licence and this was rejected.

On appeal the Committee ruled that she was too old, not strong enough, and married. The decision was made despite the fact that Linda had just won the inaugural Qantas International Women’s Handicap at Rotorua in 1975 held during International Women’s Year.  Linda and other female riders made a determined campaign in 1978 for equality  Eventually NZ rules were changed to permit female jockeys. Linda gained her apprenticeship and had her first ride on 12th August 1978. By Christmas she was second in the NZ Jockeys premiership behind Shane Dye.  Later In the same year, Linda became the first licensed female jockey in Australia

A Lady of Records

Winning her first race in NZ on Big Bikkies

Linda was the first woman in the Southern Hemisphere to ride 4 winners in a single day. She was  the first to ride a recognized Derby winner (Holy Toledo in the Wellington Derby 1979). Linda   was the first registered female rider to win a race in Australia against male professionals (Pay the Purple, 7th May 1979 in Brisbane).

Linda Wins Two Fights

Linda’s impact on Australian racing is now part of Australian racing folk law. One of her strong supporters, trainer Brian Smith who had taken the horse Balmerino to great heights, entered Pay the Purple for the Labour Day Cup at Doomben. This  was a prelude to taking on the Brisbane Cup and the horse was installed as 3/1 favourite. The Committee advised Brian that his usual rider Linda could not ride the horse. Lady jockeys were not registered in Australia. Justifiably upset the trainer threatened to scratch the horse. In 1979 considerable money was bet on important races months before the race and the scratching of the favourite would not have gone down well with punters. These bets were “all in” and the bookies kept your money when a horse did not take its place in the field.

A hastily convened meeting of Committeemen granted Linda a licence to ride. On race day with an “inexperienced” young girl on board, punters shied away from the favourite. His odds blew from 4/1 to 14/1, but the first licensed female jockey in Australia got him up to win by a neck.

The award of both an MBE and AO recognized her achievements. Linda is a member of both the NZ Sports Hall of Fame and the NZ Racing Hall of Fame. She now lives on the Sunshine Coast with Husband Alan.