To mark the week that celebrates International Women’s Day (8 March), some of the racing industry’s most successful female participants have spoken to Great British Racing about their careers. “Women in Racing, Striding for More” showcases the wide range of roles occupied by women in the sport through a series of videos, including record-breaking jockey Hollie Doyle, broadcaster Alex Hammond, as well as yard and racecourse staff.
In the past five years (2016-2020), the number of women involved and succeeding in racing has sky rocketed. Here are some of the most notable changes:
- There has been a 47% increase in the number of rides secured by women during the Cheltenham Festival, from 23 in 2016 to 34 in 2020.
- There has been an increase of almost 3% in the total number of women riders as women now make up 23% of all riders. This includes amateur, conditional and apprentice riders.
- Women have also achieved 2.6% more wins over jumps and on the Flat. In 2016 5% of all wins (501) achieved were by women versus 7.6% of all wins (601) last year.
Flat jockey Hollie Doyle dominated the news last year by breaking the record number of wins achieved by a woman on the Flat with 151 wins; landing a historical fiver-timer at Windsor Racecourse in August; claiming her first Group One victory at QIPCO British Champions Day and ending the day as the leading jockey on Great Britain’s most valuable race day. Doyle deservedly went on to finish third in the 2020 BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award and was also named Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year. Doyle remains on stellar form celebrating another phenomenal five-timer at Kempton last week (3 March).
There has been a significant increase of wins by women racing over jumps in the past decade too, from 61 wins in 2010 to 175 wins in 2020. On Boxing Day last year, jump jockey Bryony Frost became the first woman to win the famed King George VI Chase at Kempton, while breaking the record for the most-ever career wins (174) achieved by a woman over jumps in the same race.
As well as women securing more rides at the Cheltenham Festival across the past five years, the number of rides by women during Royal Ascot has increased dramatically with 27 rides for women in 2020, compared to just one in 2016.
“It is great to see that there have been a lot more women competing in recent years,” says Hollie. “We are just as good as men given the opportunity and I hope that other women continue to work hard and pursue their dreams of working in racing.
“It is also really important that the hard work from other women across the industry is recognised. There are so many people, men and women, that play a part in looking after our horses, getting them to the track and making the action happen once we are there.”
Ashleigh Wicheard, a member of stable staff for 15 years who also features in the campaign, says: “My main aim is to improve the diversity within the industry.”
While Alex Hammond, a racing channel TV presenter, says: “My mum has always inspired me and she brought me up to be a strong and independent woman. There are so many great female role models in horse racing now and it’s just wonderful to be a part of it and to see how that’s evolved.”
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