Female jockeys mispriced for success

Research on over 1.6 million horse races over an 18-year time frame has found that female jockeys given odds of 9/1 are statistically as likely to win a race compared to a male ridden horse at odds of 8/1.

The research, backed by both the Women in Racing’s bursary fund and the Racing Foundation, concluded that ‘female Jump jockeys may be being underestimated by the betting public’ after outperforming male jockeys at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival’.

The author of the research – Vanessa Cashmore – found that 14.3 per cent of the total wins at this year’s Festival came from female riders, despite receiving only 9.2 per cent of the total number of rides available.

“This analysis seems to suggest there is a significant difference between the material performance of female Jump jockeys and the public perception of their capability,” said Cashmore.

“The betting public consistently underestimate these jockeys. This could be an indicator of negative public opinion about the ability of female riders but also ensures there is value to be found in backing horses ridden by female jockeys in Jump races.

“I hope this research can move us another step closer to altering attitudes towards female jockeys and more importantly, driving behavioural change.”

Rose Grissell, British Racing’s Head of Diversity and Inclusion, said: “It is interesting to understand how the betting public may perceive female Jump jockeys. The progression of female jockeys in both codes has been agreed as a key priority for the Diversity in Racing Steering Group and that includes exploring how we can change both conscious and unconscious attitudes.

“We already know from Vanessa’s previous research in this area published last year that female jockeys are just as capable as their male counterparts.

“We want to look at every stage of a female jockey’s career to see where barriers can be removed or better support can be implemented. Whilst the number of rides going to females is increasing, we still have a long way to go.

“As an example, an audit of female jockey facilities at each racecourse is currently being carried out by female jockeys themselves, so we hope to learn where improvements can be made on the racecourse.”

Analysing this year’s Cheltenham Festival, the author of the research – Vanessa Cashmore – found that 14.3 per cent of the total wins came from female riders despite receiving only 9.2 per cent of the total number of rides available.

Tallulah Lewis, Women in Racing Chair, added: “Women in Racing is delighted to be able to support Vanessa as she continues her ground-breaking research. Riding a racehorse requires a high level of skill and strength which are abilities that can be developed by both sexes, with opportunity being the crucial final component. 

“Vanessa’s research makes clear that if women have the same opportunities as their male counterparts they can compete very successfully as jockeys, just as they can in any other sphere in racing.”

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