Gamblers who are reluctant to bet on horses ridden by female jump jockeys may be missing out on an improved payday, British research suggests.
Statistical analysis of more than 1.6 million rides covering an 18-year period indicates that a jumps horse ridden by a female rider at odds of 9/1 has the same chance of winning as a horse ridden by a male jockey at odds of 8/1.
The research was carried out by PhD student Vanessa Cashmore from the University of Liverpool Management School, and Work Based Learning Manager at the Northern Racing College.
The findings are particularly noteworthy in the context of the 2019 Cheltenham Festival, when 14.3% of wins came from female riders despite receiving only 9.2% 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,” Cashmore said.
“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.”
The project has been supported by Women in Racing’s bursary fund and the Racing Foundation.
Rose Grissell, British Racing’s Head of Diversity and Inclusion, said the progression of female jockeys in both codes has been agreed as a key priority for the Diversity in Racing Steering Group. “That includes exploring how we can change both conscious and unconscious attitudes.
“We are currently looking 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,” Grissell said.
“As an example, an audit of female jockey facilities at each racecourse is also currently being carried out by female jockeys themselves, so we hope to learn where improvements can be made on the racecourse.”
Women in Racing Chair Tallulah Lewis said Cashmore’s research made it 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.
“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,” Lewis said.
Racing Foundation Chief Executive Rob Hezel said the organisation had funded management training, placements on the MBA and was now funding a PhD to help create a training and development pathway in racing that will stretch and support future leaders in the sport.
“This research is of particular interest as it supports work on diversity and inclusion, a topic that the Foundation has previously supported research in, the results of which were the catalyst for the current industry activity in this area,” Hezel said.
“It is particularly pleasing for the Foundation to see the synergy gained from a variety of projects we have supported coming together to produce insight for future decision making.”
Neil Coster, Director of Studies for the University of Liverpool’s Thoroughbred Horseracing Industries MBA, said it was great to see the continuation of the work started as an MBA project. “Vanessa has just started her PhD at Liverpool focused on horseracing and it will deliver insightful research on a number of key topics to better inform future decision making. We look forward to Vanessa continuing to share her research and to inspire our future Thoroughbred Horseracing Industries MBA students.”