Whanganui's champion jockey Lisa Allpress is proud, humbled and totally mystified after being named in the New Year 2021 Honour List.
The 45-year-old professional jockey has been named an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for services to the racing industry.
Allpress is one of the country's most accomplished jockeys who, in 2013, was the first woman in New Zealand to achieve 1000 career wins. She now has more than 1620 wins, including around 100 international victories.
Allpress has won four national jockey premierships in 2011/2012, 2015/2016, 2018/2019 and 2019/2020. She has been an ambassador for the sport of racing nationally and internationally.
In 2019 she was invited to ride in the World All-Stars Jockey series in Japan. In February 2020 she was the first woman jockey to win a race in Saudi Arabia, competing in a World Jockey Series race meeting.
She has won races in Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, Macau, Saudi Arabia and England where she competed in the prestigious Shergar Cup, an international jockey team challenge.
She was named Whanganui Sportsperson of the Year twice and has received numerous Jockey of the Year awards from the Whanganui Jockey Club. She is a longtime member of the New Zealand Jockeys Association.
Allpress often volunteers for Riding for the Disabled in Whanganui and organised a fundraising dash and a pony scurry at the Whanganui Jockey Club's 2019 Cup Day, a night at the movies where the Australian film Ride Like A Girl premiered, also as a fundraiser for Riding for the Disabled.
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"This honour came totally out of left field, a complete surprise – a good surprise, though," Allpress said.
"I am proud and completely humbled by it and have absolutely no idea who may have nominated me for this honour, or why – I'm mystified."
Allpress is one of the hardest working jockeys in the country, travelling the length and breadth of New Zealand to ride winners. Being a natural lightweight allows the mother of two young boys, Josh and Angus, to eat whenever and whatever she wants.
"The honour can't be for hard work, that's just what I do and there are many others who work hard. I'll still be the same person at home and at work - [husband] Karl and the boys will still treat me the same."
Allpress conceded that keeping the honour secret until publicly announced today took major effort.
"It was hard all right. Karl knew and I told Mr Gray [former boss and horse trainer Kevin Gray with whom she completed her apprenticeship] a few days before the embargo was lifted.
"Life and work will carry on without any fuss, though."