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A Celebration of Firsts

As I'm sure you're all aware, today is the 1st August. It's a date that holds strong significance in the racing industry for two reasons - it is the official birthday of all horses in the Southern Hemisphere and it is also the start of a new racing season.

Seems like the perfect excuse for a celebration... a Celebration of Firsts.

*The Regular Show's Party Horse

Firstly, a huge congratulations to all the trainers, jockeys and their hardworking teams behind the scenes, who took out first place in their respective Jockey and Trainer State Premierships over the weekend. Special shout outs to Western Australian jockey William Pike for topping the National Jockey Premiership with 197.5 wins and Melbourne trainer Darren Weir again taking out the National Trainer Premiership with 449 wins (447 outright winners & 2 dead heats). The full list of all winners and stats can be viewed HERE.

The first foal of this season has already been born, with Serena Miss giving birth to her Snitzel filly at Torryburn Stud early last week.

*Torryburn Stud's newest addition, the first foal of the season. Image: Breednet/Torryburn

On 18th February this year, Captain Guy Disney became the first amputee jockey to ride a winner in Britain. Disney lost his lower right leg after being injured in the line of duty when his vehicle was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in Afghanistan in July 2009. He has had a long comeback and had to prove his riding capabilities before being re-licensed. Disney rode Rathlin Rose to victory in the Royal Artillery Gold Cup at Sandown.

*Captain Guy Disney. Image: Daily Mail UK.

The current leading first season sire is Pierro with 7 winners from 34 runners and $872,635 in prizemoney earnings to date.

The first horses arrived in Australia with the First Fleet on 26 January 1788. The first purebred thoroughbred arrived in Australia was a stallion called Northumberland, from England in 1802.

Black Caviar, our greatest sprinter of all time, has a long list of firsts and number ones to her name. She was the first horse trained outside Europe to be honoured with the title of European Champion Sprinter at the 2012 Cartier Racing Awards. She won 15 Group 1 races, beating the all-time record of Kingston Town. Her 2011 Newmarket Handicap win was the fastest ever race time for that race as well as it equaling the highest weight carried to victory in the last 50 years. She was the first mare since the 1980s to win the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot. Her unbeaten streak of 25 wins is the longest in world racing for more than a century and her peak Timeform rating of 136 was the highest ever given to a mare.

Horse racing was the first sport covered live on Australian radio in 1927.

Australia's first female Aboriginal jockey to ride a winner at a metropolitan track was Leigh-Anne Goodwin. She won on Getelion at Eagle Farm in September 1998. Unfortunately Leigh-Anne passed away only a few months later, in the December, after complications from injuries suffered in a race fall in Roma, Queensland.

Australia's first official race meeting was organised by officers of Governor Macquarie's visiting 73rd Regiment and held at Hyde Park, Sydney in October 1810. In Victoria, the first official races were held in March 1838, on a specially marked out course at Batman's Hill in Melbourne. Tasmania's first meeting was in 1813, Western Australia's was in 1836, whilst racing in Queensland and South Australia both first occurred in 1843. The Northern Territory were a little late to the party, forming The Darwin Turf Club in 1955.

Whilst some race clubs allowed 'women only' races as a novelty, the first women jockeys to be officially licensed to compete in registered races against men was Pam O'Neill and Linda Jones in 1979.

*Pam O'Neill, Southport Racecourse 1979. Image: Geoff Shephard/QLD History of Racing.

Unless you've been living under a rock since 2015, you'd know that Michelle Payne was the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup. But I bet you didn't know the first Aboriginal jockey to win Australia's most coveted race was Frank Reys in 1973 on Gala Supreme.

In 1962 Betty Lane applied to the Australian Jockey Club at Randwick for a metropolitan trainer's licence but was refused as “it's not our policy to license women.” After the refusal she became a successful premiership winning trainer in the Western Districts of NSW, where she was permitted to train. In 1982 Betty Lane became the first woman trainer with a Number One Trainers Licence.

The first official bookmaker in the United Kingdom is considered to be Harry Ogden, who opened a business in the 1790s. A bookmaker at a stand with a bag first appeared at Flemington in 1882.

Phar Lap was one of the first five inaugural inductees into both the Australian Racing Hall of Fame and New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame.

Do you know of any other firsts you'd like to celebrate?

*Champion mare, Black Caviar.

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