Time to put gender to bed

12-April-2021
12-April-2021 18:20
in General
by Peter McNeile

Those of us following the amateur division of the sport are well used to successful women riders. In a sport where around 50% of the riders are female, it is hardly a surprise to see the spoils of victory shared broadly equally between genders. The likes of Gina Andrews, her sister Bridget before her, Claire Hart and others testify to a structure that offers equal opportunity, whatever your gender. 

So, whilst inevitable, the headlines after Saturday's Grand National result strike a rather passé note. After all, it's nearly 49 years since Meriel Tufnell became the first woman permitted to ride in a race under Rules (which she won) in the UK, and in other racing territories, women riders have been at the top of their game for decades. This is not to decry Rachael Blackmore's achievement for a superb ride on Minella Times. But as she said herself after the race, "I don't feel a woman or a man just now."

The rise and rise of women riders hasn't been an overnight success. The early pioneers made up in enthusiasm what they lacked in style and strength of finish. And sad to say, in pursuit of beinbg taken seriously, some accepted rides maybe they shouldn't have. Early pioneers like Lorna Vincent, Candy Morris, Caroline Beasley (now Robinson), first woman winner over the Aintree fences on Eliogarty in 1986, and Sharon Murgatroyd, paralysed in a fall at Bangor in 1991, who subsequently fell prey to pneumonia 20 years later made an easier path for the growing cadre of female riders today. 

Jockey Rachael Blackmore after her epic National victory

In recent years, milestones have passed with increasing frequency: Nina Carberry riding a Grade I bumper winner at the 2006 Punchestown Festival; Lizzie Kelly winning the Feltham six years ago, Bryony Frost the Ryanair 2 years ago, not forgetting that Rachael also won this year's Champion Hurdle just 3 weeks ago. 

In fact, Britain's top 5 women riders have accumulated nearly 850 rides and over 100 winners between them this season alone. Market leader Bryony Frost sits 18th in the Jockeys' Championship with 44 winners. This is not the position of a nearly-competitor, or tokenism. She happens to be very good at her job. 

So let this year's National result be the end of the gender issue. Women riders want to be accepted as riders, not marked out for their gender. The greatest compliment we can make to present girl power in the saddle is to refer to them by their profession, not their gender.

Time to park the issue for good. 

 

Next Event

When?

Sunday December 12th Barbury International First Race 11.30am

Sunday February 13th Vine & Craven First race 11.30am

Sunday April 10th Tedworth First Race 1.15pm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where?

Barbury, 3m N of Marlborough, off A346, Jn 15 M4

 

Latest News

Time to put gender to bed

12-April-2021
12-April-2021 18:20
in General
by Peter McNeile

Those of us following the amateur division of the sport are well used to successful women riders. In a sport where around 50% of the riders are female, it is hardly a surprise to see the spoils of victory shared broadly equally between genders. The likes of Gina Andrews, her sister Bridget before her, Claire Hart and others testify to a structure that offers equal opportunity, whatever your gender. 

So, whilst inevitable, the headlines after Saturday's Grand National result strike a rather passé note. After all, it's nearly 49 years since Meriel Tufnell became the first woman permitted to ride in a race under Rules (which she won) in the UK, and in other racing territories, women riders have been at the top of their game for decades. This is not to decry Rachael Blackmore's achievement for a superb ride on Minella Times. But as she said herself after the race, "I don't feel a woman or a man just now."

The rise and rise of women riders hasn't been an overnight success. The early pioneers made up in enthusiasm what they lacked in style and strength of finish. And sad to say, in pursuit of beinbg taken seriously, some accepted rides maybe they shouldn't have. Early pioneers like Lorna Vincent, Candy Morris, Caroline Beasley (now Robinson), first woman winner over the Aintree fences on Eliogarty in 1986, and Sharon Murgatroyd, paralysed in a fall at Bangor in 1991, who subsequently fell prey to pneumonia 20 years later made an easier path for the growing cadre of female riders today. 

Jockey Rachael Blackmore after her epic National victory

In recent years, milestones have passed with increasing frequency: Nina Carberry riding a Grade I bumper winner at the 2006 Punchestown Festival; Lizzie Kelly winning the Feltham six years ago, Bryony Frost the Ryanair 2 years ago, not forgetting that Rachael also won this year's Champion Hurdle just 3 weeks ago. 

In fact, Britain's top 5 women riders have accumulated nearly 850 rides and over 100 winners between them this season alone. Market leader Bryony Frost sits 18th in the Jockeys' Championship with 44 winners. This is not the position of a nearly-competitor, or tokenism. She happens to be very good at her job. 

So let this year's National result be the end of the gender issue. Women riders want to be accepted as riders, not marked out for their gender. The greatest compliment we can make to present girl power in the saddle is to refer to them by their profession, not their gender.

Time to park the issue for good. 

 

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