Women in Thoroughbred Racing: Study Finds Women Jockeys Equal, But Don’t Get as Good Mounts

As I focus this month on women in the world of Thoroughbred Racing, I came across this interesting article published this year  in The Guardian.

Michelle Payne on Prince of Penzance after winning the Melbourne Cup at Flemington Racecourse on November 3, 2015. (GETTY IMAGES: MICHAEL DODGE)

Vanessa Cashmore analyzed about 1.25 million rides in handicap events between 2003 and 2016 and focused on a comparison of male and female jockeys riding horses with the same race card number.The research was done as part of her MBA in Throughbred Horseracing Industries at Liverpool University.

In a nutshell, Cashmore found that women jockeys’ performances were about the same as male jockeys, controlling for the quality of horses they got as mounts, but women typically are not given as good horses to ride. Consequently, their share of the purse is also lower.  Among her findings: only  one ride in 100 in top-level events goes to a female jockey.

“We ran the analysis on the percentage of wins for each cloth number in the data and used cloth number to control for the quality of rides that female riders were receiving. The model said there was no difference between male and female performance.”

Cashmore hopes this research will help women jockeys get better mounts.

“I’d like to try to change public perceptions about the performance of female jockeys,” she says. “But also, we need to do more work on this, and I’m keen to progress it and extend it further.

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