Women in horse racing

| May 3, 2021

Women in horse racing have come a long way. Meriel Tufnell was the first female rider in Britain to win an official horse race in 1972. This also marked the first time female jockeys were allowed to race against men. Since then, opportunity and success have not come easily for women in the sport. However, there have been better results in the recent past, leading to women in the sport to argue that they are not female jockeys but just jockeys. These latest developments have impacted the Royal Ascot who to bet on list as there seems to be a level playing field in horse racing. Studies reveal that the percentage of women winning has gone up by up to 76% since 2015. 

In last year’s Magners Cheltenham Festival, women outperformed men. The four-day festival had 28 winners, and 14.3% were ridden by men even though only 9.2% of the rides being taken by women. During the festival, Bryony Frost became the first woman to win a Grade 1 race. Rachael Blackmore, an Irish Jockey, finished sixth in the prize for top jockey after registering two wins. She later finished runners-up in the Irish Champion Jockey stakes. 

Just Jockeys Campaign

Women jockeys registered more than 800 victories in 2019, which was a significant rise from 2015’s 455. These statistics were released during the launch of the #JustJockeys campaign. The campaign was established to help showcase the talents of female riders. 

During the launch, jockey Hollie Doyle claimed that they usually compete against male jockeys all the time and were equals on and off the track. Doyle made history in 2019 for victories registered by a woman in a calendar year. Her historic season saw her manage 116 wins to her name. Hayley Turner also made history by becoming the first female winner at the Royal Ascot in 32 years. 

Another groundbreaking victory was by Khadijah Mellah, who became the first hijab-wearing jockey to ride and win in a race in Britain. Mellah emerged victorious at the Magnolia Cup at Glorious Goodwood in Hoverland. 

Horse racing is a unique sport because it allows men and women to compete against each other at the top level equally. As a result, both male and female jockeys joined the campaign, which aims to show that there is no need to differentiate between female and male jockeys. The campaign argues that all jockeys should just be referred to as jockeys.     

Doyle went on to argue that more industry stakeholders have realized that women are as good as their male counterparts if they are given the opportunity. Therefore, she claims that gender should not come into the equation. 

On the other hand, champion Flat jockey Oisin Murphy also voiced his support for the campaign. He claimed that it felt good to see the increasing number of women doing well in the sport. He argued that he does not see any gender divide between males and females in his own perspective. He claimed that there would be more successful female jockeys in the sport in the coming days.   

Category: Special interest

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