EQUINE MANAGEMENT AND TRAINING - Fred and Rowena Cook  

Retraining Racehorses, Rehabilitation, Therapy & Schooling

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 Spotlight: Female Jockeys in the Saddle

 

Female Jockey

 

As the spring is approaching, those who follow jumps racing tend to have a sense of growing anticipation for the climax of the season at the Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals, as well as Punchestown in late April if you are based on the western side of the Irish Sea. Fans will be discussing their tips and fancies, as well as the form of runners, trainers, and riders. When it comes to the latter, though, one name tends to loom large these days – Rachael Blackmore.

If you are aware of Blackmore, you will know that she pretty much bulldozed through any remnants of a glass ceiling for women in horse racing last year. She became the top jockey at the Cheltenham Festival, and she became the first woman to ride the winner of the Grand National. There were plenty of other firsts, too. As you might expect, Blackmore quickly became a symbol for women riders, offering unequivocal proof (it should not have been needed) that they had not been given enough opportunity in the past. There is still clearly work to be done, however.

 

Hayley Turner led the way for female jockeys

Blackmore, of course, is not alone. And as with all trailblazers, there were those that came before to lead the way. Hayley Turner is one such example. The English, who regularly shares her thoughts on horse racing in her Hayley Turner MansionBet column, often talks about the trials and tribulations of being a women in the saddle in a sport dominated by men. But Turner never seemed dismayed in her 20+ year career. Although, like all female jockeys who have been overlooked, she has rightly voiced her frustrations.

But the important point that must be made about Blackmore and Turner, as well as others like Bryony Frost and Hollie Doyle, is that they still only represent a small selection of high-profile female jockeys who have been given a chance to shine on the grandest stages. To celebrate their achievements as proof of women getting the opportunity to ride in big races is to overlook those who have not been given a chance.

 

Jockey Silks

 

Study showed women were as successful as men

If we haven’t yet made the point unequivocally, let’s be clear: There is no evidence to suggest that female riders are less able to win than men. And that has been backed up by proof. A landmark study released in 2018 looked at the data from over one million races and 14 years of professional racing. It found that female jockeys consistently scored strike rates equal to male jockeys, and that they were simply overlooked when it came to getting the opportunity to ride in the blue-chip events.

That study is now four-years-old, and at the time, racing authorities claimed they would do better. To be fair, some trainers have worked to make it more equitable for women to get a chance on the plum horses. Henry de Bromhead, for example, has paired up with Blackmore, and the relationship has paid dividends. But the evidence is there for all to see, and it will have been known by anyone who has worked in a training yard with horses. Blackmore, Turner, and the rest have blazed a trail, but we hope to see many more follow.

 

Study showed women were as successful as men

If we haven’t yet made the point unequivocally, let’s be clear: There is no evidence to suggest that female riders are less able to win than men. And that has been backed up by proof. A landmark study released in 2018 looked at the data from over one million races and 14 years of professional racing. It found that female jockeys consistently scored strike rates equal to male jockeys, and that they were simply overlooked when it came to getting the opportunity to ride in the blue-chip events.

That study is now four-years-old, and at the time, racing authorities claimed they would do better. To be fair, some trainers have worked to make it more equitable for women to get a chance on the plum horses. Henry de Bromhead, for example, has paired up with Blackmore, and the relationship has paid dividends. But the evidence is there for all to see, and it will have been known by anyone who has worked in a training yard with horses. Blackmore, Turner, and the rest have blazed a trail, but we hope to see many more follow.

 

 

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IT IS important that horses are accustomed to being handled and worked by both males and females - please read more here:  

 

 

 

 

 

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