Pam ONeill has Doomben race named in her honour

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Pam O'Neill, Australia's first licensed female jockey, has had a race named in her honour at Doomben Racecourse this Saturday.

O'Neill is a key figure in the success of female jockeys in the racing industry, having fought for the right to be licensed to ride in 1979. 

She continues to play an active role in the Queensland Jockeys Association and was part of the Allian Group which recently negotiated a $26 million windfall for the industry. 

In an interview with The Courier Mail on Wednesday 14 November, O'Neill said she feels honoured to be part of such a great raceday particularly as it also features the Keith Noud Quality. 

"I feel very humbled and honoured that they are doing this and the work they have put into it, particularly Alan Thomas (former SKY broadcaster) and Alex Penklis (General Manager, Brisbane Airport Hotels Group raceday sponsor). The fact it’s on Keith Noud day is also special to me. He helped me a lot in getting my licence. He used to write letters for me when I wasn’t much good at that and he was great for me.”

Reflecting on her career, O'Neill recalls her attempts to get her jockey license for 15 years. 

“I was 34 at the time and had to ride as a fully-fledged jockey – no claim. So I was on level footing with the Dittmans and all of them from the start."

“But I didn’t care. I just wanted to ride. I grew up in Ascot and just loved the animal. I have always been and still am so passionate about racing.”

O'Neill's legacy lives on 39 years later with nearly 50 percent of the intake of apprentices now comprising of female jockeys. 

“I just feel great I was part of getting them a go,” she said. “It would have happened eventually but I guess you had to have someone open the doors."

Brisbane Racing Club thank Pam O'Neill for her contribution to the industry and are proud to have this Saturday's race honour her racing career.

For the full Courier Mail article, click here