Jockeys' coach apologises for 'women can't ride' comments

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Does strength matter in horse racing?

Jockey coach Michael Tebbutt has apologised after giving a BBC interview in which he said women "can't ride".

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) said Tebbutt's remarks, made to jockey Katie Walsh, were unacceptable.

Walsh believed the comments were tongue in cheek but fellow rider Lizzie Kelly said Tebbutt should be "ashamed".

Tebbutt said: "I apologise if I have caused any offence, to anyone in Britain or across the world. That was never my intention."

He added: "My comments were misjudged.

Michael Tebbutt
Former jockey Tebbutt rode over 600 winners worldwide

"I spend a lot of my time coaching young jockeys - both male and female - and, while many of them have different strengths and weaknesses, I always treat them all as equals, exactly as they should be."

How did the exchange go?

Walsh was commissioned by BBC Sport to look at equality in racing for Women's Sport Week.

She asked Tebbutt, a coach at the British Racing School in Newmarket, what the main difference was between a male and female jockey.

Tebbutt replied: "They go through the exact same training programme, with females knowing they have to put more in, so they will go the extra yard, knowing they have to catch the male up."

Walsh responded: "That's women for you."

Tebbutt fires back: "Still can't ride though."

What does the BHA plan to do?

It intends to speak to Tebbutt about his conduct, insisting his views "are not views that anyone involved in racing would endorse or share".

It added: "Racing is a unique sport, in that women and men compete on entirely equal terms as jockeys and trainers, and female riders have the full respect of their male counterparts in the weighing room."

What does Walsh think?

The winner of the Irish Grand National in April on Thunder And Roses, she genuinely believes Tebbutt's comments were been made in jest and felt he was "trying to get me going".

She added: "I don't dispute the fact that male jockeys are stronger, but I was trying to say to him that it is not just strength which comes into play in a race. He didn't execute what he was trying to say very well."

What have others said?

Jockey Martin Lane defended Tebbutt on Twitter, pointing out that he had successfully coached several female jockeys.

But Kelly, who won the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton on Tea For Two in January, said: "Michael Tebbutt; be ashamed of yourself - a jockey coach whose opinion is 'girls still can't ride'. He actually said that."

Camilla Henderson, the daughter of leading jumps trainer Nicky and a prominent point-to-point rider, tweeted: "Amazed those high up have these views! Says a lot."

Sally Rowley-Williams, chair of the Women in Racing group, said her organisation would contact the BHA to ask for "clarification on their diversity and equality policies".

How good are female jockeys?

Almost a third of apprentice jockeys were women in 2014, according to BHA statistics.

Current leading riders include Walsh, Hayley Turner, who has won two Group One races on the flat, and Nina Carberry, who has been successful at the Cheltenham Festival

In 2012, Turner became only the second female jockey to ride in the Derby when she partnered Cavaliero.

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