LIZ BISHOP, GENERAL MANAGER OF CORPORATE SERVICES AT HARNESS RACING NEW ZEALAND
The Harness Racing industry is proud of the contribution made by reinswomen and industry sponsors as it is one of the few sports with a balanced representation of women and men. This makes the support of ANZGOG’s research, improving life for women with gynaecological cancer, very relevant. This is why we have chosen to highlight some of the amazing women in senior positions within the Harness Racing Industry across Australia and New Zealand.
Unlike other sports, in Harness Racing men and women compete against each other. How has the harness racing industry been able to achieve this, and what is the significance of women’s role in the sport?
Men and women compete on equal terms in most equestrian sports, which is due to the partnership that is required between the horse, and its rider or driver. This is also true in harness racing where it is the grade of horse that determines who races who, and not whether the driver is a women. Harness Racing New Zealand actively encourages women to enter the sport of harness racing, and we have a fairly even split between young men and women taking part in our harness cadet training programme. Women play a very important part in the sport at many levels including stable hand, trainer, driver, breeder and at a club level as well as being related to those in the industry i.e. as a daughter, mother, sister or partner. We also have an even split of women and men in the Harness Racing New Zealand office as well as within the senior management team.
Team Teal is a national campaign to promote awareness of ovarian cancer and raise important funds to support prevention and education programs. Why do you think the harness racing industry has embraced the campaign as much as it has?
Many participants in the harness racing industry personally identify with the campaign, as unfortunately ovarian cancer has touched the lives of people they know. People involved in the harness industry have demonstrated many times that they are very supportive of good causes, and given the number of women in harness racing it is no surprise that the Teal Pants campaign (Team Teal) is so successful.
What is your call to action for the harness racing community of why the message about ovarian cancer should be shared?
The role models we use to promote the Teal Pants campaign (Team Teal) are well known and loved young women from the sport of harness. The call to action is essentially to wear teal on course to encourage donations: “Wear teal and win”.
In the absence of a vaccine or detection for ovarian cancer we encourage women to know the symptoms, the risks and take prompt action with their family doctor should they be experiencing symptoms that are unusual for them and persist longer than 3 weeks.