Jumps no obstacle to rise of female jockeys
CGTN

Women jockeys have made so much progress in recent years that they are indistinguishable from their male rivals, rising star Page Fuller said.

The two-time British Amateur Women Jumps jockey champion – on the second occasion she rode more winners (16) than the men's champion – will along with the likes of Bryony Frost and Lizzie Kelly be competing for the top prizes at the Cheltenham Festival this week. 

Fuller, who turned professional and is now a conditional (apprentice) jockey and has ridden a highly creditable 12 winners this season, says there has been a rapid evolution.

"Even three years ago you could spot a ladies race," she said after riding out on trainer Jamie Snowden's gallops in Lambourn.

"This has come about through people supporting girls at a lower level and is showing especially on the flat with someone you would not be able to pick them out in the field.

"Lucy Alexander looks like she rides like a man, she is a role model for the English girls being the first woman to be crowned champion conditional (2012/13) was a big turning point and for English riders she really solidified the image of women riders."

Female jockey Bridget Andrews (C) celebrates as she enters the winners' enclosure after winning the Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle Race of the Cheltenham Festival in Cheltenham, England, UK, March 16, 2018. /VCG File Photo

Female jockey Bridget Andrews (C) celebrates as she enters the winners' enclosure after winning the Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle Race of the Cheltenham Festival in Cheltenham, England, UK, March 16, 2018. /VCG File Photo

Snowden, who will have Fuller aboard his improving hurdler Monbeg Warrior in the Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle on Wednesday, says the patronizing attitudes of yesteryear are dead and buried.

"I think the far more stable staff are girls these days, therefore girls coming up through the ranks will have more and more rides and making it that way," he told AFP.

"I think that the old style ethos of girls not being good enough is a thing of the past.

"They (owners) are appreciating if you can ride well it does not matter if they are male or female and that has progressively been the case in the last 10 years."

The Cheltenham Festival, which runs from March 12 to 15 this year, is an annually big horse race gathering for jockeys, trainers and their horses to race at Cheltenham Racecourse in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England. Some of them are the best horses born and trained in the UK and Ireland.

Stormy Ireland ridden by Noel Fehily falls during the Triumph Hurdle Action of the Cheltenham Festival in Cheltenham, England, UK, March 16, 2018. /VCG File Photo

Stormy Ireland ridden by Noel Fehily falls during the Triumph Hurdle Action of the Cheltenham Festival in Cheltenham, England, UK, March 16, 2018. /VCG File Photo

This year, organizers have introduced a process requiring trainers to provide and constantly update their horses' detailed medical records and videos to officials. 

New measures aimed to improve the equine safety and well-being, as seven horses died after being injured at the festival last year and four horses died at the event in 2017.

(With input from AFP)