Charlotte Jenner: Apprentice jockey calls for rides 'equality'

Female jockey calls for equality

Apprentice flat jockey Charlotte Jenner has called on owners and trainers to give more women a chance to become fully qualified.

Jenner, 22, must ride 95 winners to do so, but claims men are preferred for the best horses.

According to a BBC South Today study there are only five qualified female jockeys compared to 165 men in the UK.

Jenner has won 13 races, but said: "I haven't ridden a winner for a while now, and your confidence does go down."

High profile jockeys such as Katie Walsh, who came third in the Grand National in 2012, races as an amateur, however, success in big races like this is rare.

"Other owners and trainers don't think women are as strong as men, but we can prove to be as strong and more aggressive," Lambourn-based Jenner told BBC South Today.

What does fully qualified mean?
Becoming fully qualified is a validation of a rider's skills and means they are no longer claiming a weight allowance and are more likely to be chosen to ride at big meetings
It is not the same as becoming a professional, which applies to any rider who is licensed to ride

Sally Rowley-Williams, the founder of Women in Racing, agrees that female jockeys can be at a disadvantage when attempting to secure top rides.

"I think it's a fear that women are a weaker sex, and so they just can't be as strong," she said.

Katie Walsh's 'dream' to ride in National

"Sometimes it is strength and they can be as strong, but it's also finesse. I had a flat horse a little while ago, all kinds of really top male jockeys rode him, one day I had a top women jockey on him and he won when she rode him."

The British Horseracing Authority insists there is no inequality in the sport and that it works to ensure female jockeys can progress.

"Racing is one of the few sports where men and women compete on equal footing and British Racing works to ensure that there are no barriers to progress for female jockeys," the BHA said in a statement.

But Rupert Arnold of the National Trainers Federation, admitted: "When it comes to choosing at any particular moment who's going to ride a particular horse, if trainers are looking for the best available, their tendency is to start with the male riders who dominate the jockeys' Championship tables."

Jenner, meanwhile, just wants more opportunities to fulfil her ambition to fully qualify within the next four years.

"It's harder for girls as it's always been known as a male sport," she added. "But over the next few years we will get it to being more of a girl's sport in the end."

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