Horse racing is one of the only sports where men and women compete against each other, although women still represent only a small fraction of professional jockeys. In the US, women comprise only
14% of working jockeys and ride in only 10% of race starts. Only 2% ride at the elite level of the Triple outnumber female jockeys by 50 to 1 in top races and more than 7 to 1 at the professional level.
But there are a few high-profile female jockeys who are starting to grab headlines. Check out this winning ride here from Rachael Blackmore on Henry de Bromhead’s Honeysuckle. Despite a mistake over the last hurdle, Blackmore recovered in time and eased the unbeaten mare home to edge out fast-finishing Darver Star for her eighth win.
Rachael Blackmore is one of several high-profile female jockeys who are grabbing racing headlines. In the 2016/17 season Blackmore became the first female jockey to win the Irish Conditional Jockeys title. She was one of two female jockeys to ride in last year’s Grand National and is the first female jockey in Ireland to ride a Grade One winner over jumps. At the last meet Blackmore also claimed the Arkle Novice Chase on De Bromhead star, Notebook. Her double triumph on the opening day of the Dublin Festival puts her Grade One wins haul at eight, with a rising reputation.
“When you list the horses I have to ride this year, it’s unbelievable,” she said.
“I feel like I am living a dream I never could have even dreamed of.”
She added that of the horses on the agenda, she “can’t wait to ride Honeysuckle again”.
Based on American statistics, women comprise only 14 percent of working jockeys and ride only 10 percent of all race starts. Only two percent ride at the elite level of Triple Crown races. In fact, only six women have ridden in Triple Crown races since Diana Crump made headlines in 1970 when she rode in the Kentucky Derby in 1970. Note: the first time she competed in a pari-mutal race, she required a police escort to get to the paddock!
So, given the success of Blackmore and other women jockeys, why do male jockeys still dominate the sport? According to a 14-year-study by the University of Liverpool released in 2018, the prevailing factor is that trainers simply refuse to use female jockeys, despite evidence finding that female jockeys are every bit as good as their male counterparts.