Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

All female race card at Southwell to celebrate International Woman’s Day

Posted on 6 March 2020 by Laoishe MacCana
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A unique female only race will be staged on Sunday 8th March 2020.

The eight race meeting, will include 4 flat and 4 jump races. It will be marking a record breaking year for woman in racing and showcase the incredible talents of the women who compete on an equal footing to men.

The fixture will run in conjunction with the sports Diversity Steering Group, the British Horse Racing Authority, Women in Racing and Great British Racing and will be run by the female team of BHA officials and racecourse executives.

Rose Grissell, the BHA Head of Diversity and Inclusion, told Insider Sport: “International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate the achievements and talents of women across the world, as well as to raise awareness of some of the unique challenges and inequalities they face. There is no better way to celebrate the day than by providing further opportunities for female jockeys and showcasing their abilities through this fixture.”

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Racing has made huge progress with female jockeys breaking down barriers and perceptions. The likes of Hollie Doyle, Khadijah Mellah, Bryony Frost, Racheal Blackmore and Hayley Turner to name a few, have been hitting the mainstream media headlines.

Hollie Doyle broke the record for the British victories by a female in a calendar year after riding her 107th winner of 2019 at Southwell aboard Class Clown.

Bryony Frost became the first female to win a Grade 1 at the Cheltenham Festival in 2019, on Frodon, in the Ryanair Chase and previously won at the festival in 2017 as an amateur.

In June last year Hayley became the first female jockey to win at Royal Ascot in 32 years on Thanks Be.

18-year-old Khadijah Mellah became the first hijab-wearing jockey to win a race and claimed the Magnolia Cup at Goodwood.

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Hayley Turner who has over 840 wins to her name: “The girls’ changing rooms are full now,” she told the BBC.

“It’s great that Southwell is celebrating International Women’s Day with an all-female race card.

“We ride against and at the same level as men so don’t think of ourselves as female jockeys, but this is a great way to celebrate the talented women in our sport. We are getting more and more recognition so this is a fantastic opportunity to showcase women in racing,” added Turner.

Statistics have recently been released by Great British Racing which state that wins by female jockeys in both flat and jump racing have increased by a huge 76% between 2015 and 2019.

The stats show that in flat racing, winners are up by 79% from 316 to 567, and jump racing has risen by 68% with 234 winners last year.

There were more than 800 victories for women last year, compared with 455 in 2015.

The statistics were alongside the #JustJockeys campaign, which aims to show case the talents of female riders and highlights the level playing field.

The idea is that gender is ignored in racing. They are not male or female jockey’s, they are simply, ‘jockeys’. The campaign recognises that all jockeys have the same skills and are equally as driven and the clip includes the likes of Hollie Doyle, Lizzie Kelly and Oisin Murphy.

Executive Director of Southwell Racecourse, Mark Clayton, concluded with Insider Sport: “We are delighted to host this fixture in celebration of International Women’s Day and help to promote the role that women play across the racing industry, from jockeys to BHA, racecourse staff and beyond.”