After bemoaning the shortage of women jockeys (Where are all the women jockeys? 23 Feb) we now learn that there are enough of them to have their own championship for the first time. It will start at Doncaster on Saturday week and running through to the final day of the turf season in November.
The championship will be sponsored by information technology business Prolinx, whose managing director Andy Weller explained how the tournament would fit in with other awards. “We are delighted to launch the Prolinx Lady Jockey Championship 2012 in conjunction with the Professional Jockeys’ Association and are also proud to be able to present the Lady Jockey of the Year at the Stobart Lesters 2012. We hope these initiatives will inject much needed support to all lady jockeys in flat racing in Britain.”
Welcoming the new championship, Chief Executive of the PJA Paul Struthers said, “We are thrilled to be launching the first ever Lady Jockeys’ Championship and delighted that Prolinx has agreed to be the sponsor. This new championship reflects the impact that has been made by female jockeys in recent years and their growing influence in the sport.”
Hayley Turner has been leading that growth, and her two Group 1 winners last year must have done much to confirm that the time is right to recognise the growing contribution women jockeys are making to the sport. She said, “This is excellent news and it will create a great deal of interest – and make us even more competitive – in the weighing room.”
There are three sections in the championship: a gold award worth £5,000 for jockeys riding over 30 winners during the season; a silver award of £3,000 for 10-29 winners; and a bronze award of £1,000 for 1-9 winners. But it isn’t just a matter of riding more winners than anyone else to take the championship. Here, the winner will be decided on strike rate, the winners to rides ratio.