By William Hill
Last Updated: 8th September 2020
Horse racing is an incredible sport. The horses and sportsmanship are first class, there are entertaining characters and prominent figures, but a big draw is the fact that males and females compete against each other.
With the prominence of women within the sport continually on the rise, we take a look at the top female horse racing jockeys from down the years in the UK.
The sister of legendary Jump jockey Ruby Walsh enjoyed a fantastic career in which she reached multiple landmarks. She was a three-time winner at the Cheltenham Festival and has also won the Irish Grand National. Her most famous ride was in the 2012 Grand National on Seabass, with the pair managing third – the highest position that a female jockey had ever finished. An incredible feat and one that will not be forgotten in a hurry.
Lizzie Kelly made history in 2015 as she became the first ever female jockey to win a National Hunt Grade One race in Britain. She then went on to win Europe’s richest handicap hurdle aboard Agrapart at Newbury, while she also became only the second woman to ride in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2017 aboard Coo Star Sivola.
The 2019 Jump Jockey of the Year has enjoyed a memorable rise to fame and has become one of the most well-regarded jockeys in the British weighing room. Perhaps Bryony Frost’s most well-known success came at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival where she claimed a landmark victory aboard Frodon in the Ryanair Chase. It came after the 25-year-old sustained a terrible injury in 2018 and the brilliant victory on the Paul Nicholls-trained horse meant she was only the second woman to win a Grade One National Hunt race.
Hayley Turner is considered to be the first female jockey to have sustained a day-in, day-out successful career as a jockey at the highest calibre. She became the first female to ride 100 Flat winners in a calendar year, during a period where she rode in over 900 races. Her major wins include the July Cup and the Nunthorpe Stakes, both in 2011. She also became the first jockey to win at Royal Ascot in 32 years aboard Thanks Be in 2019.
Josephine Gordon was the second female of just three to ride 100 winners in a calendar year, setting a record of 106 rides when she completed the century. In 2016, Gordon became the Champion Apprentice Jockey, becoming the third female to win the prestigious award after Hayley Turner and Amy Ryan. She won her first big handicap in the Victoria Cup at Ascot in 2017.
Hollie Doyle is taking the racing industry by storm and took off during 2019. She most recently became the third female jockey to ride 100 winners inside a calendar year. She also broke Josephine Gordon’s record of 106 winning rides when winning her 107th aboard Class Clown at Southwell in 2019. She is one of the youngest jockeys currently on the circuit and has a long career ahead of her. Big things await the hugely promising jockey.
Since riding her first winner in February 2011, Irish jockey Rachael Blackmore has gone from strength-to-strength. She has established herself as one of the best in the Irish weighing room and has formed a particularly deadly partnership with Henry de Bromhead in recent years. The duo combined for Blackmore’s first Cheltenham Festival winner in 2019 when A Plus Tard bolted up to win the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase and they followed that up a few days later when Minella Indo was victorious in the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.
Her first Grade One success came on the De Bromhead-trained Honeysuckle on Easter Sunday in 2019 and she ended that season with 90 winners. That figure saw her finish runner-up in the Irish jockeys’ championship.
She rode her third Cheltenham Festival winner in 2020 aboard Honeysuckle who denied hot favourite Benie Des Dieux in the Mares’ Hurdle. It’s safe to say that we’ll be seeing Blackmore in the winners’ enclosure at Prestbury Park plenty more in the coming years.