Milczarek up in arms over Mayor’s Zoo photoshoot

weighing in

weighing in

Jockey Leonna Mayor was on the receiving end of a tirade of anger from weighing room colleague Kirsty Milczarek, who described Mayor’s appearance in lads’ mag Zoo as a backward step for women in the sport.

Mayor sustained an ankle injury late last year, and has given up her licence for the time being. She undertook the photoshoot at the suggestion of Nick Attenborough, PR director for Racing For Change, now Great British Racing. It followed two appearances in the Daily Mail, articles that Attenborough claimed, “were well received and served to show women in racing compete on a level playing field, and can be very attractive too.”

Milczarek didn’t question that in her blog, but did object to Mayor using the sport as a vehicle to make money while she is on the sidelines. She said, “Leonna is a very attractive girl and good luck to her. But if she wants to go down the modelling road as a new career, she shouldn’t be using the sport and what we have worked hard to create to help her, as she shouldn’t have to use racing to sell herself. I just feel this is a backward step for women in racing and definitely not the message we are trying to deliver.”

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Contrary to several reports, this was not a topless shoot, and Mayor herself was quick to point out that she had shown “nothing more than anyone would see if you had a bikini on when on holiday.” It was not the first time Mayor has done a bit of modelling, though you sense she was rather less than thrilled with her earlier venture. She said, “I did modelling as a youngster and was pictured wearing a hideous pink tracksuit in the Argos catalogue.”

Attenborough hinted that there might be similar ventures in the future, saying that after the Daily Mail articles, “Zoo was subsequently keen to do more on racing, and we see lads’ magazines as very important for the future of the sport in terms of bringing in new customers. That needs to be done in ways that will attract their attention. Leonna, like a lot of jockeys, sees the value of getting racing talked about in areas where it hasn’t featured before, and we have to go down routes that just aren’t going to be talking about one horse goes on soft better than an other.”

There was an element of quid pro quo in Zoo, as Attenborough pointed out. “In the same magazine, they also did a spread for us on the Grand National.” Ah, well, then, that must make it alright.

There were mixed views about the activity in Horse and Hound, although comments to its on line blog were generally supportive. The most down to earth reaction came from one contributor who simply said, “It definitely wouldn't change my ability to be a librarian if I did something like that.” You can’t get any more down to earth about it than that.

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