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A Salute to the Women in Harness Racing

123In what could only be seen as a great endorsement  for our sport, we had  three Bartley girls who competed in the same race at Shepparton last night.


Rebecca and Ellen are accomplished reinswomen who have been on the scene for a while, however it was Lisa who was having her first race drive that stole the show.


She won and beat Amanda Turnbull, who was driving the favourite, Star Black.


Amanda also happens to be the trainer of the winner Als Courage that Lisa drove.


As far as we can ascertain, this has not happened in Victoria since 1984 when the 3 Misfud sisters raced against each other.


This got us thinking, why have our HRA industry leaders not introduced an AUSTRALASIAN REINSWOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP?


After all, alongside of our Champion horses, and Champion Reinsperson’s they are one of the sports few great assets.


If any of our harnessbred.com friends have a story like this above please share it with us, who knows this could just be the start of a great series under the title of


“A Salute to the Women in Harness Racing”



Well done to all the girls that have been driving all over the country, you get a BIG THUMBS UP from us.


Approved By Dean Baring www.harnessbred.com
Driving The Future Of Harness Racing

Dean Baring


  1. It’s quite a while ago now, mid 70’s I think, when us harness driving ladies worked hard to get the right to drive against the men in races, rather than just the occaisional feature ladies race. It was a great time and we all quickly proved that the finer sex were not disadvantaged by driving against the men. Just the opposite… Horse actually go very well for women and often better!! Ladies like Margaret Frost and Kim Waugh quickly made headlines with metropolitan winners in NSW and many of us won our share of provincial and country races.
    I enjoyed driving for many years and winning races, including the first one under saddle for 30 years, at Bankstown in 1983.
    For the most part, men treated you equally in a race..I enjoyed the comeradery amongst fellow drivers.
    The girls driving nowadays have proved equal (or better, often) to men drivers. Horses like them and punters don’t care, as long as they win!!
    A special championship series would be rewarding to them, in my opinion. I wish we had the same opportunities in the 80’s and 90’s!!, Go girls,,
    Karen Skimmings (nee Glendenning)

  2. I love seeing these type of stories ( on the women ) as I was the First Licenced reinswoman to drive a winner against the men on the 22nd of December 1977 at Hawkesbury in NSW on a horse I owned and trained myself called ‘Darwin Boy” . Darwin Boy was purchased by horse Dealer Jim Eveston through a horse sale at Wagga for $180.00 . I leased the horse from Jim shortly after and it took me a while to get him going (others had given up on him that is why he went through the sales and I almost did as well) but when I did he repaid me many times over won 9 races two at Harold Park one of them a heat of a Graduation championship off a 10 metre handicap. I know women did compete against the men in the 1920’s but it was stopped when controlling bodies refused to licence them and that remained the status quo until the anti discrimination act was to be introduced through parliament in the late 70’s. Judge Alf Goran NSW told the Board of HRNSW that under the new anti discrimination laws they would no longer be able to refuse women licences to drive and so it all began.The ladies in South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia had real problems with drivers even saying that they would not drive against them, the women in Victoria where granted licences but only to drive in reinswomen races for the first 12 months, the Ladies in NSW had no real opposition but some women did want reinswomen races only but after HR writer Bill Ellis introduced Myself,Karen Bull and Cheryl Winner to Judge Alf Goran and we spoke about how we held no fears about our ability to drive against the men he agreed and the ladies in NSW where granted licences to drive against the men. After completing our 10 trial drives women in NSW started Driving the the first lady to drive was Margaret Davies at a Nowra non tab meeting ,Margaret had two drives for a second place ,Anne Tracey ( daughter of Tony Turnbull ) was the first women to drive at a TAB meeting she drove at Penrith in NSW and then later I drove the first Winner at the Hawkesbury TAB Meeting . Of course there was the critics saying that women where just not strong enough and the punting public would never bet on them etc. but all that was blown out the window when I won on “Darwin Boy” he was the very heavily backed 6/4 favourite . All these years later I still look back on that night with such fond memories I remember saying to my parents ( who where my greatest supporters) “please do not tell me if he is favourite because if he gets beaten they will through tin cans at me” and how much pressure I was under because there was TV cameras and newspapers reporters all wanting to talk to me before the race taking photos etc I was in the parade ring ready to go out on the Track when Jim Eveston came running over saying he is 6/4 and they are backing him like he cannot get beaten ( not what I needed to hear ). but thankfully all went well “Darwin Boy” stepped straight to the front and the rest is history. I am still active in Harness Racing today still driving and loving it every bit as much now as I did then, I have a wonderful husband Greg who I met at Maitland trots 37 years ago Three wonderful Children Neil, Donna and Kristy. Donna is also a licenced Driver and has driven a winner , Kristy is an owner and has enjoyed plenty of success with her beloved trotters ,our Son Neil not into harness racing loves his motor bikes. Every time I see a women win a race it does my heat good and what wonderful reinswomen Australia has produced just to name a few Kerryn Manning, Jodie Quinlan, Kate Gath and Natalie Rassmussen they have won races that most drivers only ever dream about. I am turning 61 years old later this year and have no plans of retiring yet I love this sport and all the wonderful people who participate in it and I never begrudge anyone a winner they are so hard to come by but I must admit I do like it when the girls are successful it just makes an old girl who was there from the start very happy. GO THE GIRLS

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