Friday, 24 December 2021

5 Stunning Moments for Female Jockeys in 2021

2021 threw up plenty of brilliant racing memories. But years from now, it will likely be remembered as something of a tipping point for female jockeys. Of course, anyone with an ounce of sense in their heads would have been well aware that female riders are just as good as the men – the facts speak for themselves. But 2021 was the year when the hard work paid off for many, and where the debate over women jockeys getting chances finally got mainstream media attention. 

Below we are going to look at five of the best moments from the year gone past that helped create that tipping point. There’s more work to be done across the sport to ensure women get a chance to shine, but these moments show we are headed in the right direction: 

Rachael Blackmore & Honeysuckle – Champion Hurdle, Cheltenham 

To be honest, this felt inevitable from the moment that Honeysuckle took the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown five weeks earlier. The impressive run at Leopardstown was enough to see Honeysuckle and Blackmore go off as the odds-on favourite at Cheltenham, and the pair duly obliged with a comprehensive victory. Of course, other huge victories followed for Blackmore at Cheltenham, and it’s hard not to look at her glorious four days there as a single stunning moment. But the Champion Hurdle was the crowning achievement, and it put Blackmore on the road to becoming a bona fide superstar. 

Hollie Doyle & Trueshan – Goodwood Cup, Goodwood 

Hollie Doyle is doing something similar to Blackmore on the flat, and she had one of the best moments in her career so far at Glorious Goodwood. The well-fancied Trueshan took advantage of slow ground in the Goodwood Cup to crown Doyle as the first-ever female jockey to win the Group 1 race. Doyle was not in the saddle when Trueshan won the Prix du Cadran at Longchamps in October, but she did steer Trueshan home in 1st at Ascot a few weeks later. Trueshan is now the ante-post favourite for the 2022 Ascot Gold Cup. Will Doyle be the first female winner of the Royal Ascot showpiece?

Bryony Frost & Frodon – Champion Chase, Down Royal 

We could pick any one of several big wins for Frost this year, including the Grade 1 Tingle Creek Chase on Greaneteen at Sandown in early December. But there was something extra-special about this win on Frodon at Down Royal. Perhaps it was the way Frost and Frodon blasted over the fences, keeping Gold Cup winner Minella Indo (with Rachael Blackmore in the saddle) and Galvin at bay. Or maybe it was the fact that Frost’s name had been all over the papers for non-racing reasons, although through no fault of her own. Nonetheless, it was a great moment for Frost. And, as an aside, a nice way to highlight the underrated Down Royal Racecourse as a host of elite events. 

Jamie Kah & Smokin’ Romans – Pakenham Cup, Pakenham 

Jamie Kah is hardly a household name in Ireland, but the 25-year-old jockey is a superstar in her native Australia, albeit one that has courted controversy in recent times. Nonetheless, the big win at Pakenham was celebrated as a precocious talent getting her career back on track (Kah had just returned from suspension). If she can keep her focus on racing, there’s going to be a lot more success for the record-breaking jockey Down Under. 

Rachael Blackmore & Minella Times – Grand National, Aintree 

Yes, Blackmore is on this list twice, but would you expect any less after her extraordinary year? Moreover, this win in the Grand National has claims of being the greatest moment (so far) in the career of any female jockey in history. Leaving the race aside for the moment, it was such a testament to Blackmore to see Minella Times’ odds shorten before the race simply because she had picked the ride. And the pair duly delivered in style, capping off a remarkable few months for the Irish jockey. On the evidence of Blackmore’s early-season success this term, we expect to see more history from the jockey in 2022.

Photo: Rachael Blackmore: Photo via https://twitter.com/HRIRacing
Hollie Doyle on Trueshan: Photo via https://twitter.com/rebelsart