Racing icon backs RDA trist 

Linda Jones and Roger Gordon have worked together on the new RDA Trust.  They are seen here at Linda’s Duke St star of fame.

Trailblazing Kiwi jockey and one of Cambridge’s honoured daughters, Linda Jones, has provided a massive boost to Cambridge’s Riding for the Disabled (RDA) through her support of a new trust.

The launch of the Linda Jones Cambridge Riding for the Disabled Foundation this week, and a significant financial donation from her, will help secure the Cambridge branch’s future.

Linda was in Cambridge last week to finalise the details.  The visit coincided with her return to New Zealand for the naming ceremony of the Hamilton retirement village named in her honour, Ryman Healthcare’s Linda Jones Retirement Village.

The new trust will seek donations to build up a permanent fund to benefit Cambridge RDA.  A structure has been put in place which separates the Trust’s governance from the organisation’s day-to-day operations.

Linda has lived in Queensland for the past couple of decades. She and her trainer husband Alan Jones live on a 20ha property near Caloundra.  She said she was “deeply honoured” to be involved in the trust’s establishment.

“Cambridge always feels like home, and although I’ve been away for a long time, I still consider it ‘coming home’.  I have always supported Riding for the Disabled… I used to go there frequently, they used to get me to judge some of their riding days.   I’ve always been passionate about the work they do… it is lovely now to be able to give something back.”

Linda Jones, seen here with her Duke St star of fame, was back in town last week.

Linda is considered a Kiwi icon for her tireless efforts to get equal status for women in the racing industry. She was awarded an MBE in 1979 for her contribution to racing and women’s rights, and became the first woman to be inducted into the NZ Racing Hall of Fame.

Born in Paeroa, she was introduced early to the equine world through her farrier father and later the young trainer she would wed in 1971, Alan Jones.  Keen to race alongside the men rather than be restricted to the women-only ‘Powder Puff Derbies’, she and Alan campaigned to get equal status for women. As their efforts increased, so did her personal ‘firsts’.  She became the first female rider in the North Island to take home first place, the first to ride four winners in a single day, the first woman to win a Group Race, the first to win at Ellerslie and the first to win against men in Australia.

Last week also marked the 45th official anniversary of Linda’s win in her battle to ensure women could compete against men on the track.

She has an official star of fame on Cambridge’s Duke St.

Helping craft the new Linda Jones Cambridge Riding for the Disabled Foundation has been Cambridge’s Roger Gordon.  It has been under discussion for a couple of years, he said, but Linda’s involvement has finally enabled it to reach fruition.

“Linda’s relationship with the Cambridge equine industry over so many years has enabled us to establish a foundation for the sustainability of RDA,” the Waipā district councillor said.

“Linda was invited to give her name to it, and she agreed. We have got a particularly strong equine community here in Cambridge, and we hope the foundation will attract endowments that will provide a lasting and ongoing benefit to Cambridge RDA.”

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