Girls as good as the boys: punters missing out by underestimating female jockeys

Punters are underestimating female jump jockeys despite the reality that they are a solid bet, new research has suggested.

University of Liverpool PhD student Vanessa Cahsmore analysed 1.6 million rides over an 18-year period and found a horse ridden by a woman at odds of 9/1 has the same chance of winning as one ridden by a man at an odds of 8/1.

At the 2019 Cheltenham Festival, 14.3% of wins came from female riders despite the fact they had only 9.2% of the available rides.

“This analysis seems to suggest there is a significant difference between the material performance of female jump jockeys and the public perception of their capability,” said Ms Cashmore.

The betting public consistently underestimate these jockeys. This could be an indicator of negative public opinion about the ability of female riders but also ensures there is value to be found in backing horses ridden by female jockeys in jump races.

“I hope this research can move us another step closer to altering attitudes towards female jockeys and more importantly, driving behavioural change.”

The project is supported by Women in Racing’s bursary fund and the Racing Foundation.

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Statistics also showed that women took 9.5% of all available rides on the Flat in 2018 and 5.7% over jumps, following an upward trend since 2014.

Rose Grissell, head of diversity and inclusion at the British Horseracing Authority, said the progression of female jockeys is a key priority and that includes looking at how both conscious and unconscious attitudes towards them can be changed.

“We already know from Vanessa’s previous research in this area published last year that female jockeys are just as capable as their male counterparts (H&H news, 8 February 2018),” she said.

“We want to look at every stage of a female jockey’s career to see where barriers can be removed or better support can be implemented. While the number of rides going to females is increasing, we still have a long way to go.

“As an example, an audit of female jockeys’ facilities at each racecourse is currently being carried out by female jockeys themselves, so we hope to learn where improvements can be made on the racecourse.”

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