Female jump jockeys may offer better value to punters, according to analysis conducted at the University of Liverpool.
PhD student Vanessa Cashmore has carried out statistical analysis of over 1.6 million rides covering an 18-year period – with the research indicating a jumps horse ridden by a female jockey at odds of 9-1 has the same chance of winning as a male-ridden horse at odds of 8-1.
Female jockeys enjoyed 14.3 per cent of wins at this year’s Cheltenham Festival, despite receiving only 9.2 per cent of the total number of rides available, which offers further contest for the study, which has been supported by Women in Racing’s bursary fund and the Racing Foundation.
Cashmore, who is also the work-based learning manager at the Northern Racing College, said: “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.
“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.”
Bryony Frost and Rachael Blackmore both recorded Grade One wins at Cheltenham this year, with Lizzie Kelly – a Grade One-winning rider herself – taking a Grade Three prize in the Cotswolds.
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.”