Women likely to rewrite the Royal Ascot history books in 2021

Features | 11th June 2021

Racing hopes for more sporting history for women during Royal Ascot next week (15th-19th June), following huge progress and success in recent years.

Racing is one of the few sports in which men and women compete on level terms and in the past five years, the number of rides by women during Royal Ascot has increased dramatically with 27 rides for women in 2020, compared to just one in 2016 – a 2600% increase.

That progression for women is anticipated to continue next week at the Royal Meeting with established jockeys including Hollie Doyle who currently sits joint-fifth in the Jockeys’ Championship, Hayley Turner and Nicola Currie, as well as fresh new talent such as Megan Nicholls and Saffie Osborne all expected to be in action on the track during British flat racing’s biggest week of the year.

Rides during Royal Ascot by women: 

women at royal ascot rides over time

The increase in rides that women are securing is being translated into win success during the festival, with two wins celebrated by women last year. Doyle, 24, became the third woman in history to celebrate a win during the prestigious meeting alongside Gay Kelleway and Hayley Turner when winning the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes on Scarlet Dragon.

Turner also enjoyed a victory onboard Onassis in the Sandringham Stakes last year, becoming the first multiple-winning woman rider at Royal Ascot. In 2019, she also won the Sandringham Stakes with Thanks Be, a first victory for a woman rider at the Royal Meeting for 32 years since Kelleway.

She will ride the Charlie Fellowes-trained Onassis in the Group 2 Duke of Cambridge Stakes on Wednesday 17th June, with all rides during Royal Ascot for Doyle, Currie, Nicholls, Osborne and other jockeys confirmed two days before each race, at the 48-hour declarations stage.

Doyle said: “It’s great to see that there have been a lot more women competing at Royal Ascot in recent years. We are just as good as men given the opportunity and I hope that other women continue to work hard and pursue their dreams of working in racing.”

She continued: “Riding a winner at a festival like Royal Ascot is a dream come true. I was inspired by Hayley and hope now I can inspire young people too.”

Hayley Turner, Onasis victory 2020
Hayley Turner, Onasis victory 2020
Hollie Doyle, Scarlet Dragon 2020
Hollie Doyle, Scarlet Dragon 2020

Doyle dominated the news last year by breaking the record number of wins achieved by a woman on the Flat with 151 wins; landing a historical fiver-timer at Windsor Racecourse in August; claiming her first Group 1 victory at QIPCO British Champions Day and ending the day as the leading jockey on Great Britain’s most valuable raceday.

Doyle deservedly went on to finish third in the 2020 BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award and was also named Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year.

Women in racing continue to make headlines and pave the way for young riders with, most notably Rachael Blackmore becoming the first woman to win the Randox Grand National at Aintree earlier this year.

Nicholls who is daughter of 12-time Champion Trainer, Paul Nicholls said: “It’s great to have seen Hayley and Hollie enjoy success at Royal Ascot over the last two years and I hope that this inspires other young people to pursue a career in racing.”

The 23-year-old continued: “There are more and more opportunities from women in racing and their (Hayley and Hollie) success proves that.”

Racing is one of the few sports in which women and men compete against one another on an equal playing field.

Over the past five years, there has been an increase of almost 3% in the total number of women riders and women now make up 23% of all riders. This includes amateur, conditional and apprentice riders.

Once more, the number of wins achieved in a year by women has increased by 19% over Jumps and on the Flat. In 2016 5% of all wins (501) achieved were by women versus 7.6% of all wins (601) last year.