Ad Clare Lindop rewrote the history books when she rode Rebel Raider to victory in the 2008 Victoria Derby. (VRC Collection)

Clare Lindop: Inspiring the next generation

3 November 2023 Written by Sarah Marinos

In 2003, Clare Lindop made history as the inaugural Australian female jockey to ride in the Melbourne Cup. In 2008 she achieved another ground-breaking feat by becoming the first woman to triumph in the Victoria Derby. These pivotal milestones profoundly influenced her life.

When Clare Lindop blitzed the field in the 2008 Victoria Derby, she remembers feeling a little agitated about the fuss about becoming the first woman to win the race. Clare crossed the finish line on the 100-1 shot, Rebel Raider, trained by one of her mentors, Leon Macdonald.

“Back then, I didn’t always deal with the media that well because I didn’t feel it should be a big deal to be the first woman. When I watched Michelle Payne’s press interview after she won the Melbourne Cup, I felt she handled it so much better!” laughs Lindop.

“But winning the Derby was a milestone for me and I felt it was a culmination of everything I’d worked hard to achieve.”

Fifteen years after that momentous win at Flemington, Lindop still clearly remembers how the race unfolded and the moment she realised she would make racing history.

“We were a long shot but we were optimistic,” said Lindop.

“I remember jumping out the gates, getting into my position and even having a joke with Dwayne Dunn during the race. Then I remember peeling out at the top of the straight and I had this feeling – ‘Oh my god, this is happening, we’ve pulled this off!’

“I knew at the top of the straight that I could win but I kept my head down and with 100 metres to go I really had to contain myself. It was an amazing win for Leon and for the whole stable.”

This year’s Melbourne Cup Carnival also marks 20 years since Lindop became the first Australian woman to ride in the Melbourne Cup – New Zealand jockey, Maree Davey, was the first ever woman to ride in the race.

“I was announced as a rider on the Saturday night before the race and although I always felt that male or female, we were just jockeys, I did embrace being the first Australian woman. I knew what it meant for females in racing. We jumped out the gates and I kept telling myself, ‘Ride well, don’t mess this up’,” said Lindop.

“It was a surreal experience because I remember being a young girl and watching the race on TV. I’d watch the jockeys in the mounting yard and Bruce McAvaney calling the race and describing the atmosphere at Flemington.

“I rode in the Cup two more times and one year there were three females in the race and then Michelle won in 2015. You can see the steps forward women have made in the history of that race and I’m proud to have been part of that. It changed my life and changed my perspective of myself as a rider.

“I travelled and raced overseas afterwards and that year I went from being quite a successful South Australian jockey, but down the list, to riding my best season. I had 111 winners – a record for women then.”

Lindop ended her career as a jockey in Adelaide in 2018 and ‘didn’t look at a horse’ for a year but today she’s the Community Development and Training Officer for Racing SA. She is also Deputy Mayor of her local council.

“My parents were teachers and in our local community, just outside Warrnambool and if you wanted to get anything done you had to roll up your sleeves and put in. I’d also been an advocate in the racing industry for women, speaking up at Jockeys Association meetings, so becoming a local councillor wasn’t such a stretch,” said Lindop.

Her role with Racing SA helps young people in the racing industry develop a career pathway and combine hands-on vocational skills with high school completion. Whether they want to become a farrier, vet, work in racing event management, or a steward, Lindop’s aim is to ensure they receive the education and support they need to establish a career.

“I got a job at a racing stable when I was 14 and, at the end of Year 9, I left school to become an apprentice jockey. While my parents supported me, they were concerned about me not finishing my education. Now I realise why they were scared and I am passionate about young people getting an education,” said Lindop.

She is also passionate about women’s continued rise and rise in racing. 

“When I began riding there were times when being a young girl was tough. There was a perception that females weren’t as strong as male jockeys, but I had great mentors and rode with supportive jockeys. I always believed I could be as good as anyone else if I worked hard,” said Lindop.

“I think these days there is acceptance and that gender isn’t a factor anymore. Opportunities for women are growing based on their merits and ability and that’s a good thing.”

Experience the Magic of the 2023 Melbourne Cup Carnival

Prepare for a truly unforgettable Cup Week, where equine athleticism meets Melbourne style in a spectacular showcase of thoroughbred excellence. Be there to experience the magic trackside as new champions etch their names into racing folklore. Tickets still available, don't miss out!.