Britain's professional lady jockeys are to get their own championship for the first time.
The race for the new title – sponsored by information technology business Prolinx – begins on the opening day of the Flat racing season at Doncaster Racecourse on Saturday 31 March. It concludes on Town Moor too, on the final day of the season in November.
Prolinx is also sponsoring the ‘Lady Jockey of the Year’ award at this year’s Stobart Lesters on Thursday 5 April.
Hayley Turner, Britain’s top female Jockey who rode her first two Group 1 winners last year, said: “This is excellent news and it will create a great deal of interest – and make us even more competitive – in the Weighing Room.”
A leading contender in the championship is Leonna Mayor who said: “Having our own championship will assist in raising the profiles of female Jockeys even further and that can only help us in our careers.”
Paul Struthers, Chief Executive of the Professional Jockeys Association, said: “We are thrilled to be launching the first ever Ladies’ Jockeys Championship and delighted that Prolinx has agreed to be the sponsor. This new championship reflects the impact that has been made by female Jockeys in recent years and their growing influence in the sport.”
Andy Weller, Managing Director of Prolinx Ltd, welcomed the new Lady Jockey of the Year award. “We are delighted to launch the Prolinx Lady Jockey Championship 2012, in conjunction with Professional Jockeys Association, and are also proud to be able to present the Lady Jockey of the Year at The Stobart Lesters 2012. We hope these initiatives will inject much needed support to all lady Jockeys in Flat racing in Britain.”
The championship is divided into three sections – gold, silver and bronze. The gold award prize, for Jockeys riding over 30 winners during the season, is £5,000; the silver award (10–29 winners) £3,000; and the bronze award (1–9 winners) £1,000. The winners will be the riders with the best strike rate – winners-to-rides ratio – in each section.
As the new championship was launched, Prolinx announced the findings of research that analysed the winner-to-runner success rate of the ten leading female Jockeys in 2011 to find out at which racecourses they fared best.
Almost one in four rides by lady Jockeys at Folkestone Racecourse last year resulted in winners. However, it was a different story at Thirsk Racecourse where none of the leading female Jockeys won a race!
Prolinx also examined which ladies gave punters the best chance of making money on the horses that they ride. For example, if punters had put a level £1 stake on the 20 horses that Nicole Nordblad has ridden at Kempton Park since starting her British riding career last year, they would have made a profit of over £59.
BEST RACECOURSES FOR LADY JOCKEYS
- Folkestone (23% success rate)
- Chepstow (20%)
- Hamilton Park (18%)
- Ayr (17%)
- Newbury (16%)
- Great Yarmouth (16%)
WORST RACECOURSES FOR LADY JOCKEYS
- Sandown Park (5%)
- Ascot (4%)
- Carlisle (4%)
- Redcar (4%)
- York (4%)
- Thirsk (0%)
LADY JOCKEYS FOR PUNTERS TO FOLLOW
- Nicole Nordblad at Kempton Park – £59 profit to a £1 level stake in 20 races since 2011
- Cathy Gannon at Chepstow – £50 in 110 races since 2008
- Amy Ryan at Hamilton Park – £46 in 38 races since 2008
- Hayley Turner at Newbury – £44 in 72 races since 2008
TEN CONTENDERS FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP
- Hayley Turner: Hayley, from Southwell in Nottinghamshire, was the first female Jockey to ride 100 winners in one season, won two Group 1 race winners in 2011 and has been a captain in Ascot Racecourse’s Shergar Cup.
- Cathy Gannon: From Dublin, Cathy enjoyed her best ever year in the saddle in 2011, with 71 winners, and is now returning to race-riding after breaking a leg in a fall last autumn.
- Amy Ryan: From North Yorkshire, Amy – daughter of trainer Kevin Ryan – is a former Amateur Ladies’ Champion Jockey and has been professional since 2009.
- Kelly Harrison: From North Yorkshire, Kelly rides out for Newmarket trainer William Haggas and her ambition is to ride a Group race winner.
- Sophie Doyle: From Cambridge, Sophie was Champion Female Apprentice Jockey two years ago and rides most often for Lambourn trainer Jamie Osborne.
- Leonna Mayor: From Stoke-on-Trent, Leonna is an Apprentice Jockey at Alastair Lidderdale’s yard in Lambourn and is targeting the Apprentice title.
- Lucy Barry: An Apprentice Jockey from Wiltshire who brings jump racing experience to her riding on the Flat, Lucy was the winner of the Racing Excellence All-Weather Hands and Heels Series last year.
- Amy Scott: Apprenticed to trainer Henry Candy, Amy who hails from Oxfordshire was the winner of the 2010 Betfair Racing Excellence Training Series.
- Jemma Marshall: An experienced Jockey from the South East over jumps and on the Flat, Jemma started as an amateur at the age of 18. She rides principally for Epsom trainers Pat Phelan and Michael Attwater.
- Nicole Nordblad: A bright future is predicted for teenage Swedish Jockey Nicole. Though she started riding in Britain only last September her winners are already into double figures with an enviable strike rate.
Pictured: Swedish Jockey Nicole Nordblad and her British counterpart Leonna Mayor are delighted with the new Prolinx Lady Jockeys’ Championship.