Takudzwa Chitsiga Sports Reporter
UPCOMING apprentice jockey, O’Meara Chiedza Rusike, made history by becoming the first female black jockey in Zimbabwe to win a major race 0on Saturday.
She romped to victory in the 1100m MR70 Handicap at Borrowdale in Harare.
Rusike is the only female jockey at the country’s main horse racing venue.
On Saturday, all the saddles during race day were filled by jockeys and apprentices.
Rusike, a 21-year-old from the Zimbabwe Jockey Academy, rode Lunar Dancer, who finished ahead of Mill Creek, Western Shamrock and White Winter.
“I am so thrilled to have ridden such a competitive race. Thank you to everyone who has supported me along the way, a privilege to do you all (Zimbabweans) proud with my first win,’’ she said.
“A big well done to my friend Apprentice Rodgers (Satombo), it was awesome fighting it out with you on the turf.”
Mashonaland Turf Club racing manager, Betina Gurajena, said they believe she will go a long way and turn professional one day.
“We are delighted that we have a new jockey who is doing well and we are delighted that she is competing with men,’’ said Gurajena.
“It is good that we are giving the outside world a message that racing is not a male-dominated field only as anyone can do it.
“We need to encourage people to take a leaf from Rusike as she is managing to work hard and maintain her weight.”
The Glen Norah-born Rusike fell in love with horse racing in 2016 when her foster parents showed her an advert of apprentice jockeys that had been flighted in The Herald.
Rusike, who lost both her biological parents at a tender age before she was adopted by a loving couple Perseverance and Joyce Ganga in 2012, instantly fell in love with horses.
That same year, she was admitted for a five-year jockey apprenticeship in South Africa.
She is currently in her third year.
Her group started as a class of 11 (six boys and five girls). However, they are now down to three boys and one girl.
Rusike’s mother passed away in 2000 while her father died nine years later, leaving her in the hands of her maternal grandmother.
She was adopted by Perseverance and Joyce Ganga in 2012.
The horse she rode on Saturday, Lunar Dancer, a five-year-old Philanthropist (USA) mare, is from the Gokhan Terzi yard and owned by Gengiz Goksel.
The horse was bred by Klavervlei Stud and has now won three races.
The main race of the day the AFZ Charity Handicap, over 1800m, was won by outsider Fareeq.