QLD GRANTS APPROVAL FOR PAYNE TO RIDE
When news filtered through today that Queensland Racing Integrity Commission had approved Michelle Payne's application to ride in our northern most state, it was Rhonda Mangan that addressed the elephant in the room.
Mangan, like Payne, is a holder of a licence to ride and train in Victoria, but like the Melbourne Cup-winning jockey she is taboo in New South Wales as Racing NSW deems holders of both licences to be an integrity issue.
Racing NSW announced last month and re-affirmed earlier this week that it would not allow any jockey who also holds a trainer's licence approval to ride in the state.
Payne had hoped to ride Husson Eagle in the Listed Starlight Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill on Saturday, but that was quashed by the Racing NSW ruling.
Apprentice Michael Dee will ride the horse.
What has Payne, Mangan, Linda Meech, Jade DaRose and others who hold a jockey's and trainer's licence in Victoria confused is just where the integrity issues arises.
Racing NSW has not divulged any reason except to say the integrity of racing is paramount.
When told that QRIC had paved the way for Payne to ride in Queensland as a visiting jockey and, therefore, be able to ride her brother Patrick's horse Husson Eagle in his bid to win back-to-back Magic Million Sprint titles, Mangan found the situation all the more curious.
"Good on QRIC for taking this position" enthused Mangan.
"The one question I would love an answer to is why is it that Michelle, Linda Meech, Jade DaRose and I are considered to be an integrity risk in NSW, but not in Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, Queensland or the Northern Territory. "It all seems very odd."
Not surprisingly, Payne was delighted by the decision of QRIC, which was in contrast the view of Racing Queensland chief steward Allan Reardon who said he thought the holders of dual licences presented an integrity issue.
Payne said QRIC had been most supportive and helpful in finding a pathway through and she is grateful for them finding a common sense answer.
But, Payne said she remained annoyed and frustrated by Racing NSW to deprive her the opportunity of riding Husson Eagle in an important lead-up race.
"Not only is it a joke, but it is a restraint of trade" Payne said.
"They have given no reason at all. Lead-up races are very important and I'm not able to (ride) because of a rule that doesn't make any sense. "I'm just annoyed and frustrated because it is keeping out of a ride and it's hard to get rides. It is hard enough as it is without having to face barriers like this that make no sense. "It is pretty obvious that nearly all the jockeys who have a trainer's licence are females because we don't get the opportunities and we are trying to create our own and they (Racing NSW) are taking it away from us even more."
Maree Elliott, the senior licensing and registrations officer at QRIC, said Payne specifically applied for a visiting jockey's permit and after checking with Racing Victoria and checking other protocols, the application was approved.
Elliott said Payne did not ask to be licensed as a trainer during her trip to Queensland for the Magic Millions day on the Gold Coast on January 14.
She said Payne was solely assessed as a visiting jockey and this was approved as Payne met all the appropriate criteria.
Payne said she is looking forward to riding at Magic Millions day, which she viewed as one of the great days on the Australian racing calendar.
"It will be fantastic to be a part of it" Payne said.