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Byron Shire
August 4, 2021

The Iris Nielsen race remembers

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Story & photos Eve Jeffery

Billed as the only race in Australia (and perhaps the world) that is restricted to female riders, feature race the Iris Nielsen Handicap ran as race six of eight at the Ballina Races yesterday. Tegan Harrison riding Epic Terra stormed down the home straight with a healthy lead and never looked like coming anything but first in the event.

The event is run annually to remember pioneering female jockey Iris Nielsen, who died tragically in a race fall at Lismore in 1988. Nielsen, a 38-year-old mother of three, fell from Happy Zephyr during the race and became the first female jockey to die while competing in Australia. Iris had 1,493 career rises, with 207 wins and 391 placings.

Prior to the race, commentator and form analyst for SKY Racing, Gary Kliese, presented the race’s 14 female jockeys and two other notable women riders. Then jockeys, trainers, owners, officials and punters stopped to remember the woman in whose honour the race was run, and to also remember Gold Coast Coast-based New Zealand jockey Ashlee Mundy whose recent death shook the racing community, especially the female jockey sisterhood. Ashlee died tragically after a fall at the December 30 Kurow races in NZ’s South Island. Mundy, 26, had returned to New Zealand late last year to ride on the South Island’s summer circuit. Her mount Elleaye fell in race seven with 600 metres to run.

The memorial race was 1,405 metres on a good track and was won in 1.25.40. Harrison and her mount ran an excellent race, leading Kasie Stanley on Cap Vilano and Skye Bogenhuber on Getyourown.






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