Despite the troubles of Italian racing over the last twenty years in one facet of the sport Italy remains an undisputed leader.Within the peninsula itself there is no doubt that Italy has many top class jockeys, champion Dario Vargiu,Fabio Branca,Carlo Fiocchi,Salvatore Sulas Salvatore Basile and the up and coming stars Dario Di Tocco and Gabriele Cannarella.In England Franco Dettori is without doubt a true legend and well backed up by Andrea Atzeni.France can enjoy the magician that is Cristian Demuro Japan his brother Mirko, Germany Michael Cadeddu and of course in the US Umberto Rispoli is the punters favourite in California.
But all this talent just didn’t arrive out of the blue the tradition has been building over a century.,Dettori’s Father Gianfranco rode around 4000 winners and before him there were forerunners who helped the great tradition grow.Without doubt the greatest of these was the incomparable Enrico Camici who we will look at in detail over the next few weeks.
However today with the pleasure Rachel Blackmore has given us at Cheltenham it is time to reflect on the Woman who led the way, In Europe and indeed Worldwide a quarter of a century ago.In the late nineteen eighties a truly amazing woman enters the European racing scene.
Jacqueline Freda was born in 1963 daughter of Riccardo Freda a director and screen writer in the important Italian movie industry.Riccardo won best director at Cannes in 1996.
At 21 years of age Freda began a career as a stuntman/stuntwoman? which has continued to this day although interrupted for around a decade in the nineties.Much of Freda’s work on set involved horses and she developed an interest in racing which brought her to visit Capannelle on her days off.In the late eighties, she was offered a ride in an amateur jump race which she accepted.She took to National Hunt like a duck to water.
Jacqueline was a natural, fearless and with a natural empathy with the horse.In 1989 she became Italian amateur national hunt(Ostacoli) champion.The following year she switched to the flat and became amateur champion in 1991.Freda was so good that the offers to turn professional came thick and fast.The big wins were not long in coming the Premio Citta De Napoli in her first year as a pro and the following year the top sprint the Premio Omenoni.Each year when it was quiet in Italy she went to the Deauville festival and enjoyed success.By 1995 as with Rachel Blackmore now her gender became irrelevant Jacqueline was a top jockey full stop.From the first days of January that year in Pisa she was in wonderful form and by the end of the Primavera season it was obvious Jacqueline Freda was a serious candidate to win the coveted Frustino d’Oro(The Golden Whip)the Italian champion jockeys title, won in the past by greats such as Caprioli,Camici,Gianfranco Dettori and Gubellini.In one of the closest races for the title in its history Jacqueline Freda became the first Woman in any major racing country to become champion jockey after 125 wins.A momentous moment for Women involved in Horse racing not just in Italy but all over the World.Freda continued with her successful career as a jockey until both her parents passed away at the dawn of the new century.The call of her first love was too strong and she returned to the cinema where she still works in Rome.Jacqueline hasn’t forgotten her love of horses though as she also runs Relived Horses in the Italian capital an association which takes care of forgotten Thoroughbred and Trotting horses.A truly remarkable Woman who led the way for Jessica Marcialis,Hollie Doyle,Rachel Blackmore and hopefully many more.