|Precocious in front, 1933 Grand National. Photo: jumps heroes of yesterday.|
My father’s first cousin, Simon Lynch became a jockey mainly competing in steeple chase events in Melbourne. Simon’s greatest racing triumph was riding the winner, Precocious, in the 1932 Grand National Steeplechase at Flemington, Melbourne.
The Grand National is Australia’s most prestigious steeple chase race and Flemington is Australia’s most prestigious race course. The events surrounding this win were highly controversial, and history making.
Precocious was owned and trained by twenty-two year old, Miss Dorothy Shiel. Since World War One, women had been permitted to nominate themselves as horse owners. This entitled them to train their own horses without first obtaining permission from the Victoria Racing Club. This is what Miss Shiel had done with Precocious.
When she won the Grand National, Dorothy became the first female trainer to win a race at Flemington. Although the win was very popular with the public, the V.R.C committee refused to allow her into the mounting yard to accept the trophy. A few days later, the V.R.C committee advised that owners henceforth would need to obtain a permit to train their own horses, and that such permits would not be granted to women.
The Chairman of the V.R.C, Mr L.J.S. MacKinnon declared, ‘horse training was not suitable for women. The engagement of jockeys and other duties connected with training were essentially jobs for men- simply it was not thought to be women's proper sphere.' The restrictive measures were not lifted until the early 1970's.
Tragically, Simon was killed at age twenty-five on the 2nd May 1935, at Flemington while schooling a horse.