Kei Chiong Ka-kei is the first female jockey to be licensed in Hong Kong since 2000, and Nanako Fujita is only the seventh female jockey in the history of the Japanese Racing Association. Both apprentices are making big strides in an Asian horse racing culture that is notoriously anti-female, says Australian journalist Michael Cox.
This past weekend was a big one for Chiong. The 23-year-old won a race at Sha Tin on Saturday and finished second in another, then finished third on older Group 1 winner Amber Sky in an impressive effort on Sunday. Chiong may have ridden just four winners from 88 starters, but the apprentice has a higher “in the money” percentage than two of the top five jockeys. She will ride for the first time at Happy Valley Racecourse on Wednesday this week.
Nanako made her race-riding debut at Nakayama at just 18-years-old earlier this month. She finished second in her first ride and has drawn huge interest from all kinds of local media outlets, despite having not yet won a race. Cox writes: “The very fact a woman riding in races is such a startling visual image for an Asian audience underlines just how far the region is behind the rest of the world in producing female riders.”
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