From Trove’s Twitter account yesterday comes this, from the 1913 Zeehan and Dundas Herald:

“Trackwatchers at Flemington on Monday morning were provided with a sensation which, for the time being, made the doings of Cup horses seem a small moment (says the Melbourne Herald).

“Between 6 and 7 o’clock, when the tracks were usually busiest, a young woman was discovered to be ‘riding work’. She wore long boots, trousers and loose shirt, this being the costume normally affected by jockeys on the tracks, except that boots were worn in place of leggings …

“Eager enquiry among the observers, who quickly grouped together, elicited the fact that the lady jockey was Miss Marjorie Longden, a visitor from Tasmania …

“Racing men are keen critics of their own profession, but even those who found difficulty in adjusting their thoughts to the female invasion of what has hitherto been regarded as a close preserve of the opposite sex were compelled to admit that Miss Longden rode exceedingly well …

“Miss Longden came across from Tasmania specially to ride horses at the recent Royal Agricultural Show, and the daring speed with which she sent hunters at the jumps attracted admiring comments all round the arena. The judges thought it necessary to caution the young woman, in her own behalf, about riding so fast in a contest which was designed to be primarily a test of jumping ability. Miss Longden had no consciousness of danger, and expressed surprise that there should have been any official intervention …

“It is, however, extremely improbable that girls will ever be allowed to ride races in this part of the world, if for no other reason than that the public would revolt against the risk of injury inseparable from the sport.”

Now, 102 years later …

Peter Fray

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