Linda Jones has officially opened the Hamilton Retirement Village named in her honor

June 30, 2022

The pioneering Kiwi jockey and women’s rights campaigner flew to New Zealand from her base in Queensland to officially open the village with Ryman Healthcare Group Chief Executive Richard Umbers today.

Linda said having the village named after her was a thrill.

“I’m very proud of it – I still can’t believe it. It’s a beautiful complex and I happen to know some of the residents – and know how much people love living here and what the staff do for them.

“It’s an unreal feeling, I still have to pinch myself.”

The opener also marked the 45th anniversary of his victory over the New Zealand Racing Conference (NZRC) to face men.

In the 1970s, women were restricted to women’s only races known as “Powder Puff Derbies”.

Linda, supported by her coach husband Alan, campaigned for equal status for women. The NZRC refused, but the passage of a new Human Rights Commission Act in 1977 meant that this position was no longer tenable and she was granted her licence.

She went on to beat the men at their own game, achieving many firsts for women.

Linda was awarded an MBE in 1979 for her contributions to running and women’s rights.

Richard Umbers said it was an honor to be able to name the village after Linda.

“Linda stands out as a trailblazer for women, a brave and fierce competitor in a tough sport.

He is a New Zealand icon whose career was forged in this region and we are incredibly proud to have his name on this village.”

Work began on the $260 million village on River Rd in 2018, and it has been a strong seller, with more than 330 residents living in the village on the banks of the Waikato River.

“It went better than we ever imagined, and the momentum grew with the community,” Richard said.

The village includes townhouses and apartments, as well as a café, indoor swimming pool, cinema, library and billiard room.

The main buildings are named after Linda’s favorite winners, including Holy Toledo and Big Bikkies.

Ryman came to Hamilton in 2002, when he opened his Hilda Ross Village.

Last year, Ryman Healthcare announced plans to invest an additional $150 million in a new village west of Cambridge.

The new village, which spans 8.6 hectares of land on Cambridge Road, will accommodate over 300 residents.

About Linda Jones:

Linda Jones is recognized as a trailblazer for New Zealand women in sport.

As the first woman to be inducted into the New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame, Linda is a true Kiwi icon.

His brilliant career was forged in the Waikato.

After making a name for herself in the women-only “Powder Puff Derbies”, Linda became a media sensation leading the campaign for equal rights in horse racing.

His first attempt to apply for a learner’s license was denied. Reasons for refusal included being too old (she was 24), not strong enough, and being married.

It took her three years to get the license, but finally in 1977 she became the first New Zealand female jockey to be granted the right to race against men.

It was at Te Rapa in 1978 that she picked up her first victory, which then led to a flood of historic firsts to be achieved.

She was the first rider from the North Island to claim first place and she became the first woman to ride four winners in one day, also at Te Rapa.

Linda was also the first woman to win a group race, the first to win at Ellerslie and the first woman in the world to win a derby.

She also managed a few firsts across Tasman, including becoming the first woman to win against men in Australia.

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