Female jockeys should get weight allowance, says AP McCoy

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Melbourne Cup 2015: Michelle Payne dedicates win to female jockeys

Female jockeys should get a weight allowance to help them compete against men, AP McCoy has suggested.

The retired 20-time champion jockey was responding to Michelle Payne calling racing "chauvinistic" after she was the first woman to win the Melbourne Cup.

"The female jockeys are very, very competent riders but perhaps a woman should receive an allowance like a filly does in a race," said McCoy.

Female horses carry less weight than males when competing in the same races.

But there is no similar allowance for jockeys - racing is one of the few sports where men and women compete on an equal footing at the highest level.

Some female jockeys regard suggestions of a weight concession as patronising, while others believe it would create more opportunities for women.

Jockey Cathy Gannon
Jockey Gemma Tutty

"I don't think it would be fair," said leading female rider Cathy Gannon.

"We've been trying to say we're as good as the boys for years so it would be a backward step in my eyes."

Payne rode 100-1 shot Prince of Penzance to victory, ahead of the Frankie Dettori-ridden Max Dynamite, in the Melbourne Cup - known as "the race that stops a nation".

"It was brilliant for her to win the race and tactically she gave Prince Of Penzance a brilliant ride, but I'm not sure that was the time to call racing a chauvinistic sport," said Northern Irishman McCoy in a blog for bookmakers William Hill.

"It's a very physically demanding sport and they're not going to be as physically strong as a bloke. They can't be. Tactically they can be as good but if it comes down to strength in a finish, a woman is not going to be as strong as a man.

"There aren't many sports where women compete against men and on a day-to-day basis. Are women as physically strong as men? No they're not. It's just fact."

Weight allowances for jockeys
Weighting game: If a jockey is lighter than the weight the horse is allotted to carry, the difference will be made up by thin lead weights in a special saddle cloth.
Handicaps: About 60% of the races run in Britain are handicaps where horses of varying abilities are allotted different weights in an effort to give them an equal chance of winning.
Males v females: There are no specific weight concessions for jockeys based on gender, although there are for horses, with fillies carrying 3lb less than colts of the same age in Europe's richest flat race, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
Conditional/apprentice jockeys: To compensate for an initial lack of experience, conditional jockeys (Flat racing) and apprentices (jumps) have weight allowances of between 3lb and 7lb depending on how many winners they have ridden.

Jockey Racheal Kneller welcomed McCoy's suggestion, but is unsure whether it would change perceptions.

"It's a good idea but I don't think it will make any difference. I claim 5lbs and I still struggle for opportunity," she said.

Grade One-winning Canadian rider Emma-Jayne Wilson tweeted: "Brilliant idea - if strength were the only attribute jockeys required to be successful."

Payne was only the fourth female to ride in the Melbourne Cup in its 155-year history.

After her victory on 3 November, she said: "It's such a chauvinistic sport, I know some of the owners wanted to kick me off."

She praised Prince of Penzance trainer Darren Weir and owner John Richards for their support but added: "I want to say to everyone else, get stuffed, because women can do anything and we can beat the world."

Michelle Payne celebrates her winning ride on Prince Of Penzance to win race 7 the Emirates Melbourne Cup with brother and strapper Stephen Payne
Michelle Payne celebrates her winning ride on Prince Of Penzance with brother and stablehand Stephen Payne
Time of her life: Ms Payne said every Australian jockey dreams of winning the Melbourne Cup. She said she started when she was five
Michelle Payne said she had been dreaming of winning the Melbourne Cup since she was five years old
Tweet from British jockey Hayley Turner
Payne's win is inspiring jockeys around the world, including Britain's Hayley Turner

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