Thoroughbred racing pioneer Pam O’Neill is the first living Australian woman to have a Group race named in her honour now that the Australian Pattern Committee has upgraded the Magic Millions Pam O’Neill Stakes to Group Three level.

Millie Fox lived to see the first edition of the Millie Fox Stakes, but she passed away before the Australian Pattern Committee elevated the Australian Turf Club-hosted contest from Listed to Group Two, via a short time as a Group Three event. Only one woman – living or dead – other than O’Neill and Fox has a Group race run in Australia named after her, and that person is British monarch Queen Elizabeth II, who has a Group One in New South Wales and a Group Three in Victoria. Many Australian mares, including Black Caviar, Makybe Diva and Winx, have their names attached to Group contests on Australian soil, but the likes of Sheila Gwynne, Clare Lindop and Gai Waterhouse have only Listed events.

Racing Queensland and the Brisbane Racing Club are honouring O’Neill for being Australia’s first licensed female jockey and effectively paving the way for women riders such as Lindop, Michelle Payne and Jamie Kah to follow her lead.

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