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08 March 2023

Naomi Howgate on Embracing Equity this International Women’s Day

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is Embrace Equity, and women and male allies across racing have come together to shine a light on inspirational women in the sport. We all know that racing is one of the few sports where women and men compete against each other on equal terms. However, only 16% of professional jockeys and only a quarter of trainers are women. There are initiatives and organisations across the sport that exist to promote equity, providing opportunities and support: Women in Racing and Racing Home are just two of these. As highlighted by Great British Racing, there have been great strides made by female pioneers over the last 60 years. In the 1950s the racing authorities did not recognise women as being trainers and it was not until twenty years later that women appeared on the track as jockeys. We now see our female jockeys competing and winning at the pinnacle of the sport, with Rachael Blackmore having won both the Grand National and Unibet Champion Hurdle and Hollie Doyle finishing second in the Flat jockeys’ championship in 2021.

While it is vital to have inspiring female role models at and on the racecourse, representation is just as important in all areas of the industry. Sadly, there are still some roles in racing where women are rarely seen, we have no female valets or agents and Dani Jackson is aiming to become the UK’s first full-time female race caller. We are very proud of the progress that has been made but, on this International Women’s Day, we recognise that we must keep working together if we are to achieve true equity.

Hollie Doyle signing autographs for Racing to School

Today is also a chance to celebrate the women’s achievements outside of the workplace, achievements that rarely make headlines or win trophies. Izzie Marshall, Racing Executive, not only works full-time but races as an amateur jockey and has her sights set on the upcoming Cheltenham Festival. You can read more about her journey from a young point-to-point rider to participating in the BHA Development Programme, and now how she balances her work and passion.  An extraordinary number of women in racing take on sporting challenges, such as multiple marathons and iron man (maybe time for a rebrand!) triathlons. This shows courage, determination and resilience, perhaps very similar qualities to those that a jockey might need.

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Our #IWD2023 video shows more inspiring stories from women in racing. Please share this or your own story to inspire others and use the hashtags:  #IWD2023 #WomenInRacing #ALLINTHERACE

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