Becoming a jockey is not easy; they’re like racing drivers but instead of commanding a machine, they’re in charge of a live animal, considering not only themselves and the race but also the horse they’re riding.
It takes a combination of skill and understanding to be a huge success, with several of the world’s best female jockeys having offered advice to girls wanting to get into the sport.
Up until recently, female jockeys were something of a rarity. Holly Doyle is a flat jockey in England and only 23-years-old, but she’s been riding ever since she was a child. Whilst racing is something in her family’s blood, she still had to break into a predominately male environment.
“You have got to have your own mindset,” she said in an interview with the Metro. “If you go into the game thinking: “I am not going to do well because I am a girl and I am disadvantaged”, you won’t be helping yourself. It is the wrong way to go about it.”
Another UK-based female jockey insists that fitness players a key role in being a success. Lizzie Kelly is one of Britain’s most iconic sports stars as she became the first female jockey to win a Grade 1 Hunt race in Britain and she’s always keeping an eye on her weight to gain a tiny advantage.
She told the Independent that as well as weight, she’s seen a decrease in the number of jockeys smoking in recent years. "People are under pressure to be fitter all the time. That is down to racing becoming more competitive.
"I think people are now choosing to have the lifestyle of an athlete. I think the need to smoke is not there as much."
Fitness and the right mental attitude will certainly stand you in good stead, but one of the obvious criteria is a love of horses. Julie Krone was the first female triple crown winner and she sees the passion for horses amongst females as one of the key motivators behind a successful jockey.
“In sport horses, I would say it’s at least 95 percent of women. It’s dominated by women. Obviously, it’s more accessible for any kid, girl, whatever to get involved with show horses, with sport horses, than it is the racetrack. We just have so many horse outlets. It is very, very popular.”
Trainer Tom Amoss adds perhaps the most important point of all; you have to be a good rider. Rosie Napravnik has fared well in three of the top events in the sport and is first and foremost a great rider.
“I’ve never thought of Rosie as a ‘woman rider,” said Amoss. “She’s a very, very good rider and there was an opportunity to get her for the race and so we chose to do that, to get who we thought was the best rider available, man or woman.”
With more and more women becoming jockeys, these sound words of advice from their peers, young and old, will act as a great blueprint to breaking through in the sport.