Waikato jockeys turn calendar girls

MISS DECEMBER: From tomboy to glamour, Aimee Taylor’s transformation was stunning.
MISS DECEMBER: From tomboy to glamour, Aimee Taylor’s transformation was stunning.

When Aimee Taylor arrived at the studio for the Racy Girls Calendar photo shoot, publisher Zea Marks was apprehensive.

"Aimee came in and was quite nervous, and a bit, shall we say tomboyish," Marks said.

"Actually quite a few of the girls were nervous and shy but once they saw what the other girls had done they were fine."

Taylor, 23, of Hamilton, attired in the lime green of Karen Zimmerman's stable colours, was a revelation and Marks was delighted with her tomboy's shoot.

"It was absolutely perfect and her photo is just a statement."

It had been 10 years since Zimbabwean-born Marks created a world first, a calendar of New Zealand's female jockeys in various stages of undress with modestly placed props to keep things seemly.

A decade on she decided she wanted to capture the colour and glamour of the industry and the athleticism of the jockeys.

As Miss December, Taylor will have plenty of competition from Te Aroha apprentice, Tayla Wenn, 19, with the "wow" factor and Auckland's Danielle Johnson, 23.

Johnson, the punters' pin-up and tipped by good judges to be a contender for next season's jockey premiership will impress fans nationwide as Miss July.

While competition for the front cover of the calendar was hot, the honour goes to Samantha Collett partly as reward for the hard work she donated to the cause.

Collett was the go-between for Marks, who lives in the heart of thoroughbred country in Matamata, and the jockey models.

"I've known Samantha for a number of years from back in her pony club days when I lived next door," said Marks, a former apprentice jockey and widely travelled trackwork rider.

"Sam presented the idea to the girls and helped communicate with them which was a fantastic help and it was very good of her."

Collett, 24, epitomises the "alluring" look Marks has tried to achieve with the calendar.

"In the first calendar the poses were a lot more raunchy but this year I've gone for the glamorous, feminine look," Marks said.

It is an image more in keeping with the late Lisa Chittick, to whom the calendar has been dedicated. Chittick loved the glamour of raceday and her stylish raceday outfits.

Each of the 12 jockeys appears in outfits designed by Cambridge designer and milliner Robyn Brooks, whose Ooby Ryn range has featured on many fashion in the fields winners in recent years.

Each outfit features the individual colours of the trainer or stud which has sponsored a page in the calendar, Marks providing the fabric, manufacture of garments and hiring of fascinators and Brooks donating her time.

Racing industry people have thrown their weight behind the project by donating their time or items to auctioned at the calendar launch. "All things said and done we had fun," Marks said.

The garments will be modelled by the jockeys and then auctioned at the launch on August 3 at Cambridge's ClubHouse Sports Bar and Cafe where international model, Kylie Bax, will deliver the opening speech.

All proceeds from the launch, door entry and auction will go to Leukaemia and Blood Cancer NZ, which will also benefit from sales of the $30 calendar.