A new study by the Thoroughbred Horseracing Industries MBA has found that the performance of female jockeys is similar to that of their male counterparts.
The MBA, run by the University of Liverpool with funding from the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) and the Racing Foundation, has been utilising detailed analysis techniques on data covering a 14-year period.
With the quality of the horses being ridden factored in, the study suggests that essentially performance is no better of worse across genders.
Amongst the results of the data is that 11.3% of professional jockey licences are held by females jockeys, with only 5.2% of available rides during the 14 year study, which incorporated 128,488 races and 1,255,286 individual rides, taken by female jockeys.
Vanessa Cashmore, author of the study, commented: “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.”
After reiterating its desire to take steps to address the disparity in male and female racing opportunities, the BHA has also stated it is to work with the sport’s recently-formed Diversity in Racing Steering Group.
Nick Rust, Chief Executive of the BHA, explained: “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.”
The BHA has also detailed it is continue to monitor situations in France, where France Galop has provided female jockeys with a weight allowance in certain races, as part of its ongoing commitment to address diversity issues.
Results of this initiative, view of the Diversity in Racing Steering Group and findings of Cashmore’s study will be added to by further internal analysis, to determine any short and long-term steps that must be taken to improve equal opportunities for female jockeys.