Women in Flat racing

Alex Greaves

The first female jockey to win a Group 1 contest, that memorable success came in the 1997 Nunthorpe Stakes at York when her mount, Ya Malak, dead-heated with Coastal Bluff. Having completed a three-year university course, Greaves started life as a jockey later than many, but she enjoyed great success as an apprentice and was the first female apprentice to ride out her claim in Britain. Dubbed ‘The Queen Of The Sand’ by the press in the UK, Greaves rode 300 winners before retiring in 2006. She was also the first female jockey to ride in the Derby, partnering Portuguese Lil, trained by her husband David Nicholls.

Joanna Morgan

Originally from Wales where she cut her teeth as a jockey riding in point-to-points, Morgan broke new ground in Irish horse racing when becoming the country’s first female professional in 1975. She was also the first female jockey to ride at Royal Ascot and also in an Irish Classic. After riding for 20 years, partnering nearly 200 winners including victories in the Irish Lincoln and Irish Cambridgeshire, Morgan retired to start training and enjoyed several notable successes, including at Royal Ascot when Roca Tumu took the Britannia Handicap. She finished training in 2015, but remains involved in the sport with bloodstock interests.

Josephine Gordon

A slow-burner who suddenly burst into flames, Josephine Gordon had to be patient to get the ball rolling, going 18 months between her first and second winners. But she emerged in spectacular fashion in 2016 to become just the third female British champion apprentice jockey. Honoured twice by her peers at the Lesters Awards that year, her career continued to blossom in 2017 when she became only the second woman, after Hayley Turner, to partner 100 winners in a calendar year. An association with the powerful Newmarket yard of Hugo Palmer has yielded further success since, but she will begin 2019 as a freelance seeking to develop and build new relationships. Her services will surely be much in demand.

Hayley Turner OBE

The most successful female jockey in the history of British racing and one of the most recognisable faces in the sport in recent years, Turner has blazed a trail with a career tally of fast-approaching 800 winners, including Grade 1 victories in the July Cup and Nunthorpe Stakes and also in the US, in the Beverly D Stakes. Having originally retired in 2015 after a battle with injury, Turner was awarded the OBE for her services to the sport the following year. But after some spending some time working in the media, Turner was missing the buzz and returned from retirement in 2018 to resume competitive riding. Recently out in Dubai as part of the Godolphin team, she is set to return in time for the start of the British turf action at the end of next month.

Nicola Currie

Hailing from the Isle of Arran, Currie’s first steps into racing came when she took part in showjumping competitions as a teenager. First joining leading Scottish jumps trainer Lucinda Russell, she was encouraged to move south and focus on Flat racing due to her weight. She hasn’t looked back. Attached to the stable of former champion jockey Richard Hughes, for whom she rode her first winner in December 2016, Currie enjoyed a breakthrough year in 2018, riding a total of 81 winners – making her the leading female rider in the jockeys’ championship – and taking a valuable handicap at Ascot aboard Raising Sand for Hughes’ Lambourn neighbour Jamie Osborne.

Megan Nicholls

Being the daughter of one of British racing’s most celebrated trainers is no guarantee of success in the sport, but Megan Nicholls has proved herself an accomplished performer in her own right. The apprentice jockey has partnered a total of 40 winners, her 13 victories in 2018 achieving a level-stakes profit for her supporters. For the second year running, she also landed the hugely-successful Silk Series of races restricted to female jockeys. Wins on horses trained by her father, Paul, were accompanied by victories for a couple of notable northern yards, who latched on to the value offered by her weight allowance. With a regular column in The Sun newspaper too, it seems sure that we’ll continue to hear more about Megan Nicholls.

Hollie Doyle

With a career tally of over 160 winners, Hollie Doyle’s days of enjoying the benefits of an apprentices’ allowance are now well behind her, but the victories are showing no sign of letting up. Currently much in demand on the All-weather circuit, Doyle’s skills have gained greater exposure over the last 12 months thanks to an association with another exciting young racing talent in trainer Archie Watson. Her impressive strength and fitness, while at the same time being able to ride at light weights, has made her a sought-after freelance and she notched a total of 54 winners in 2018, putting her firmly inside the top 50 in the overall standings.

Eve Johnson Houghton

Hailing from one of racing’s most famous families – and one already full of high-achieving women – Eve Johnson Houghton has carried the torch on to great effect since taking over the family yard in 2007. In 2018, she sent out Accidental Agent to take the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot, her first Group 1 winner. The emotional scenes in the winner’s enclosure proved an iconic moment at the meeting as the trainer celebrated with her mother, Gaie, the successful owner and breeder. Her grandmother Helen Johnson Houghton was also a true racing pioneer, having trained the winner of the 2000 Guineas in 1956 when the Jockey Club did not recognise women as being trainers. Instead, the horse was registered as having been trained by her assistant, Charles Jerdein.

Gay Kelleway

Crowned champion female amateur jockey when just 18 years old, Kelleway then turned professional and became the pre-eminent female Flat jockey of her generation. The first woman to ride in the Gold Cup at Ascot, she was also the first to ride a Royal Ascot winner when her horse Sprowston Boy took the 1987 Queen Alexandra Stakes. Having ridden 60 winners, Kelleway then enjoyed a successful stint in New Zealand, before returning to the UK to concentrate upon training. Based in Newmarket, she has sent out the winners of numerous Group races and major handicaps. Her most exciting current horse, Global Spectrum, is unbeaten in three starts, after recently winning a big race in Qatar.

Sophie Doyle

An advertisement for determination and dedication in the face of difficulty, Sophie Doyle – whose brother is leading Flat rider James – has overcome the obstacles placed in front of her to become a big name in racing on the other side of the Atlantic. After showing considerable promise as an apprentice in the UK, having drawn a blank from 85 rides in 2012, she headed to the USA in a bid to re-establish herself. Working hard, she gradually began to pick up mounts in 2014 and hasn’t looked back since. Last year, Doyle rode 83 winners who between them collected US$1.74million in prize money, finishing third in the end-of-season standings at the prestigious Arlington racecourse in Chicago.

Jane Elliott

Few jockeys can know their way up and down the A1 as well as Jane Elliott, who is based with George Margarson in Newmarket and plays a key role in the day-to-day running of the yard, while at the same time frequently riding at the other end of the country for a number of Yorkshire stables, with whom she has developed associations. Having gone close to landing the Silk Series for female jockeys in 2018, Elliott already has a couple of winners on the board from just a handful of rides so far this year and looks just the type of young jockey to explode on to the scene in 2019 if she can get on a few more winners and continue to impress with both her style and her industry.

Katherine Begley

An experienced rider in events, team chasing and point-to-points as well on the racetrack, Begley is one of a number of promising talents hoping to make the breakthrough to the next level in 2019. A previous stint as an apprentice jockey failed to go as hoped for, but having remained involved in racing and ridden as an amateur before returning to apprentice status, things have suddenly picked up for Begley in recent weeks with five winners from just 13 rides in January. Due to her age, this will be Begley’s final year with apprentice status, but she ought to be able to bank on the support of trainer Dave Evans – not least because as well as riding horses, she does almost every other job in the yard, including recently redesigning the stable’s website!

Laura Mongan

Racing’s oldest Classic, the St Leger, was claimed by a female trainer for the first time in its 240-year history when Harbour Law landed the spoils in 2016 for Mongan. She was just the fourth female trainer to win any of the British Classics after Helen Johnson Houghton, Criquette Head and Pam Sly. Born and brought up in Epsom, she trains from the historic Condover stables along with husband and former jockey, Ian. Mongan’s parents owned and bred racehorses, but preferred jumps racing – indeed having begun her training career with just three horses, Mongan herself originally focused on jumps racing, winning the 2013 Imperial Cup with First Avenue.

Amanda Perrett

Taking over from a trainer as successful as Guy Harwood, who looked after horses of the calibre of Dancing Brave and Warning, cannot have been an easy undertaking. But since her name went on the licence in 1996, Amanda Perrett has maintained the finest traditions at the historic Coombelands stable in Sussex. A successful amateur jockey with 90 winners to her name and the first female rider to take part in the Champion Hurdle, Perrett has, assisted by her husband, Mark, sent out over 690 winners, including 18 Group-race successes for the likes of Indian Lodge, Carnival Dancer and Tillerman.

Jane Fiona Chapple-Hyam

Jane originally hails from Australia and now is a Flat racehorse trainer based in Newmarket. She is currently sitting at number 42 in the Flat Trainers’ Championship.