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Monday, December 19, 2011

Australia, The Land of Opportunity for Women Drivers

Jimmy, over at Opening Quarter answered a question of mine which has been bothering me.  Why does it seem women drivers get more opportunities to drive in Australia compared to the United States.  (I am a firm believer that more women drivers would attract more women to racing.)  Jimmy provides an answer that stable's grooms (who tend to be female) apply for junior driver licenses and are allowed to claim a driver's concession.

What is a driver's concession?  In South Australia (yes, there to rules are not consistent), a junior driver license is valid until the end of the season the year they turned 23 unless they won the maximum of 200 victories or 50 victories at Metropolitan tracks allowed.  So a driver would be able to win 200 victories at a track like Monticello or 50 victories at Yonkers Raceway; had their junior license for five years; or turned 23, whichever came first before becoming a full driver.  The bottom line is a junior driver  is similar to an apprentice jockey; in many races a junior driver is given a concession of racing their horse in one lower class than they belong in.  We use a different system of classifying horses than they do in Australia, but in North American terms, a horse that qualifies for a NW3LT classification would be allowed to race in a NW2LT race.  As with thoroughbred racing, some races,such as stakes, junior drivers are not eligible for claiming the drivers concession.

It seems trainers and owners are seeing that certain horses are responding better to women drivers so some owners are insisting women drivers be used on their horses.  Hence, there are more women driving in races.

Of course, a junior drivers license is not limited to women; it is eligible for all young drivers, regardless of sex.  This gets me wondering, would a junior drivers license be better than our system of provisional driver?  Not only for giving all provisional drivers more opportunities, but giving women a greater opportunity of proving they belong in the sulky and not just in the barn.

Just wondering.

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