Female Jockeys As Good As Males
By Mark Andrews
The performance of female jockeys is equal that of their male counterparts, suggests a study carried out at the University of Liverpool Management School.
Using detailed analysis techniques on data from British Thoroughbred racing, the study suggests that, once the quality of the horses they are riding is factored in, the performance of female jockeys is essentially no better or worse than that of male jockeys.
When comparing females riding on the same number cloth as males in handicaps, performance was identical on all number cloths except for four – namely Cloths 3, 4 and 5 on the flat where male performance was observed as superior by less than a quarter of a place, and Cloth 15 over jumps where female performance was observed as superior to males by a slightly greater figure.
Analysis of the data from a 14-year period, which incorporated 128,488 races and 1,255,286 individual rides, revealed that female jockeys received just 5.2 percent of rides (Flat – 6.5 percent, Jump – 2.9 percent). There was a slight upward trend in these figures across the data period.
In 2016, 24 percent of the 778 individuals holding a jockey’s licence – including professional and amateur jockeys – were female. This figure has remained consistent for the last 10 years.
Vanessa Cashmore, author of the study, says: “This study strongly indicates that female jockeys are every bit as good as their male counterparts. I hope it helps to provide more opportunities for female jockeys, and also encourages more women to further their careers as race riders.”
The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) reiterated its commitment to addressing the disparity between male and female riding opportunities, working with the sport’s recently-formed Diversity in Racing Steering Group.
Nick Rust, BHA Chief Executive says, “This study provides further evidence towards something that many in the industry have felt for some time – that there is no reason why female jockeys should not be considered as good as their male counterparts.
“We are proud that British racing is one of the few sports where men and women can compete on equal terms. However, if female jockeys are not being given the same opportunities as the men, then this cannot be considered as equality.
“Understanding why there are fewer female jockeys than male, and why those jockeys get fewer rides than the men – in particular in higher profile races – is something that we are determined to address, and will be considered by the sport’s dedicated Diversity in Racing Steering Group.
“Racing should be based on values of fairness and respect. We intend to ensure that these values underpin all aspects of the sport and that British racing provides fair opportunities for all of its participants.”
Gemma Tutty, jockey and rider of almost 50 winners from over 600 career rides, says, “This study confirms what we already knew and have been saying all along, that female jockeys can be just as good as male jockeys. I hope this study helps to persuade more owners and trainers to give female jockeys a chance in the saddle, especially in the bigger races.”
The full report has not been published yet, but a summary is available HERE.
Reprinted with permission of Mark Andrews, Equine Science Update.