Lacy relishes racing but is ‘cramped’ in female jockey rooms
RACING: This year's National Apprentice Series final race winner Stephanie Lacy says that despite more female jockeys entering the racing industry, trackside conditions remain challenging.
The regular Corbould Park rider represented Queensland last month in South Australia, beating the boys at their own game and taking out the top prize.
Lacy said although they were treated equally there was a growing number of female jockeys who felt "cramped" in second-rate rooms.
"Jockey rooms for females are a lot smaller," she said.
"It's the only thing I think should be changed."
Lacy, 23, began racing in February last year and has since maintained a busy schedule, training and racing almost seven days a week.
She said female jockey Michelle Payne winning the 2015 Melbourne Cup helped show that female riders could be just as competitive as the boys.
Sunshine Coast Turf Club CEO Mick Sullivan admits the female changing room at Corbould Park is smaller than the men's space but said that was warranted.
"At this stage we still have a lot more male jockeys riding than females," he said.
"The ladies jockey room is in a very good state and there's never been a comment from a female jockey about it being a problem or not being big enough.
"We've probably got one of the best ladies jockey rooms and one of the better and bigger areas around."
He said things could change there as more women continue to become involved in the sport.
"In 10 years time we'll probably have to swap them around with the ladies moving into the (current) men's (room) and the men's being relocated in the (current) ladies (room)," he said.
The New Zealand-born Lacy is just one of three Sunshine Coast-based jockeys making a name for themselves in the industry.
Chelsea Jokic, 20, is in the last year of her apprenticeship and in that time has achieved a total of 101 winners, showing no signs of stopping.
Jokic said the male jockeys had become accustomed to riding beside them as more girls were coming through the ranks.
However, it was "quite difficult" once finished their apprenticeship to find races.
"A lot of trainers tend to use the boys because they think they're stronger," she said.
Alisha Taylor, 24, who has ridden on the Coast for four years, said being a senior rider was harder but more female jockeys were riding than ever before.
Racing Queensland jockey welfare officer and workplace trainer and assessor Rachel Mason said it was good to see a number of females coming through.
"It is brilliant for the industry, because for as long as the industry has been around, it has been a male-dominated sport," she said.
Mason was the first female jockey to ride four winners on a Brisbane metropolitan track and knows what it takes to make it big.
She said these girls knew how to hold their own and always worked hard.
Lacy and Jokic were aboard winners at Corbould Park on Sunday, with the former steering Shelter Lady to a narrow in in a maiden handicap (1200m) and the latter guiding Lupo Nero to a one-length margin in a class 1 handicap (1400m).
Jim Byrne claimed three winners.
(Chloe is a USC first year journalism student)