Tag Archives: women in racing

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TEARS AND BEERS AT CHELTENHAM

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Magners Cheltenham Festival Roundup

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The Cheltenham Festival never fails to throw up emotion tales but this year set a precedent in the “weep stakes”. The magnificent Al Boum, provided Irish trainer Willie Mullins with a first victory in the G1 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup. Mullins who is the Festival’s most successful trainer with 65 winners over several decades, has made 26 attempts to win the Gold Cup, finishing second six times.

 

“I had resigned myself to never winning a Gold Cup,” said Mullins, whose father Paddy Mullins trained Dawn Run to win in 1986.  It was also a first Gold Cup win for Irish jockey Paul Townend who has ridden for Mullins since he was 17 years old.

 

It was a number of formidable efforts by women which really stirred the souls this year. There was the winning owner of Klassical Dream, Joanne Coleman, whose husband had died from bone marrow cancer just nine months earlier. John Coleman who sadly never lived to see his horse race and had never had a Festival winner was there “in spirit” though. Joanne carried his ashes in her handbag. Another widow is the spotlight was trainer Kayleigh Woollacott, who had taken over her husband’s trainers license after he took his own life last year. Despite being one of the favourites, sadly it was not Lalor’s day to shine but we hope to see him back next year.

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Bryony Frost was our favourite winner of the week and had the crowds in rapturous applause, after making history as the first female jockey to win a Grade 1 (top-level) race over jumps at The Festival. The 23-year-old claimed one of the hardest fought battles to win by little more than a length over Charlie Deutsch and Aso, trained by Venetia Williams.

 

Frost’s reaction to her win was one of humility and empathy and made the front pages of several newspapers. Interviewed after the race, she reflected all the glory on her horse Frodon. “I can’t explain how much I love that horse. He is the most incredible battler. When he got overtaken two out, most horses would quit, but he grabbed me by the hands and said don’t you dare give up, don’t you dare not send me into the last, I want this more than you, now come on!”

 

“He would not lie down. It’s a lesson for us. Sometimes you might go down but you’ve got to get up and get going again, and at the last, he was just magic. Then when he got to the front he did his usual and took it all in. Just like I did.”

 

An hour later, Paisley Park claimed the G1 Sun Racing Stayer’ Hurdle, for female trainer Emma Lavelle and the horse’s owner Andrew Gemmell, who has been blind since birth. The following race of St Patrick’s Thursday was won by a bold front-running performance from Lizzie Kelly who said “I watched Bryony and thought ‘that was my game plan’. When Irish jockey Rachael Blackmore claimed another Grade 1 race, making that her second win of the week, it reminded us that, in the words of leading trainer, Dan Skelton “I think it is about time we stopped talking about lady jockeys and just call them jockeys”.

 

Indeed the sight of Blackmore on the winners podium in Ireland is a weekly one. The 29-year-old has claimed an incredible 84 winners in Ireland and currently sits a close second behind Paul Townend in the stake to become Irish Champion Jockey. Speaking after Blackmore’s victory in the G1Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, the winning trainer Henry de Bromhead said of the jockey; “We’ve been so lucky to have her. She’s a brilliant rider. What can you say- she just wins.”

 

There were record crowds every day for this year’s Festival with 266,779 people attending over four days. Willie Mullins won the Leading Trainers’ title whilst Nico de Boinville finished the week as leading jockey with three wins. Rachael Blackmore finished in an impressive sixth place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amy Murphy Racing

FEMALE FOCUS AT THE FESTIVAL

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We are proud of the fact that Horse Scout is an enterprise run by women. We not only love what we do both in business and in our equestrian pursuits, but we have never seen our gender as a limitation. So you could say that for us, every day is International Women’s Day. We also go to great lengths to provide as much coverage of great female equestrian athletes as we do. This week we will be championing the great female jockeys heading to The Magners Cheltenham Festival. Last year history was made when there were four female winners at The Festival, which really is the Olympics of Jumps Racing. The jockey entries have not yet been confirmed but we are expecting to see more girls on the cards than ever before including Lizzie Kelly, Bridget Andrews and Harriet Tucker who all won last year as well as Bryony Frost, Lucy Alexander and Rachael Blackmore who lies second in the Irish jump jockeys table. Will they go beat last year’s record by scoring even more Festival victories and take a share of the? Can Bryony Frost be the first ever woman to win the Gold Cup?

 

National Hunt Racing has always been a sport contested by men and women. Yet of all equine-related activities, it has been the most challenging for women to make their mark in, over sports like Eventing, Dressage or Showjumping. There have been World Champions in all three Equestrian disciplines but there has never been a female Champion Jockey, in either Flat or National Hunt.   Maybe this is because racing is a sport where the boys massively outnumbered the girls. Some say there have been fewer opportunities for women to excel, with many trainers and owners favouring a male jockey over a female for reasons that include physical strength or because they don’t like seeing girls get hurt. Or maybe the female jockeys have simply not been as good as the men.

 

In the last five years, the tide is has turned and since Lizzie Kelly shot to fame in 2015 when she became the first female jump jockey to win a Grade One race when she won the Novices’ Chase on Tea for Two at Kempton Park in 2015. It is now a regular occurrence to see women first past the post. Furthermore, trainers are giving them rides on good horses and there are more female jockeys turning professional than ever before. It is perhaps significant that 10 time Champion Jumps Trainer, Paul Nicholls employs Bryony Frost as one of his leading stable jockeys.

 

There have been 14 winning female jockeys at The Festival in total but with 23 winners between them. The first woman to win at was Caroline Beasley who won in 1983 on Eliograty and Gee Armytage was the first woman to have two winners in one year. The first professional female jockey was Lizzie Kelly last year on Coo Star Sivola who she plans to ride again this year. Whilst the most successful female jockey to date is Nina Carberry with six winners in total.

 

Female trainers have had their fair share of Festival winners. There have been 27 winning female trainers over the years with 68 winning horses between them. The first was Jackie Brutton who trained Snowdra Queen to win in 1966. The most successful so far has been Irish trainer Jessica Harrington, with 11 winners in total, including training Sizing John to win the Gold Cheltenham Cup in 2017. Jenny Pitman was the first woman to train a Gold Cup winner, when Burrough Hill Lad won in 1984, one of two Gold Cup victories for Pitman. The second success came in 1991 when Garrison Savannah won, ridden by her son Mark Pitman. She was also the first woman to train the winner of the Grand National courtesy of Corbiere in 1983. Once again, an achievement she would repeat when Royal Athlete who in 1995.

 

One of the most popular female trainers of all time has to be Henrietta Knight, who trained the legendary horse, Best Mate to three Gold Cup victories and had seven Festival winners in total and over 700 winners throughout her career.

 

This year, there are a number of female trainers presenting some promising horses to the mix. Emma Lavelle saddles Paisley Park, one of the favourites for the Stayers’ Hurdle and Jessica Harrington’s Supasundae will be a decent contender in the same race. Small time trainer, Kayley Woollacott’s Lalor is a strong hope for the Arkle Trophy. Also seen on the entries list are Venetia Williams, Sue Smith (wife of Harvey Smith), Lucinda Russell, Rebecca Curtis and Horse Scout’s ambassador Amy Murphy.

 

Last year’s Festival really reinforced the Women’s Revolution in racing with so many female winners. You can see three of those Festival winners, Lizzie Kelly, Bridget Andrews and Harriet Tucker on this video, discussing what the sport and the win really means to them.

https://youtu.be/F0NOgtvXPCE

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEW FEMALE TALENT FOR HORSE SCOUT: AMY MURPHY

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“There isn’t much life outside horses but I’ve never been one for shopping anyway” confesses racehorse trainer Amy Murphy. A familiar tale among Equestrians. Ellie Kelly caught up with Horse Scout’s latest advocate about racing dreams, being a woman in a man’s world and unhealthy eating habits.

At 24 years, many young people are still working out what to do with their life but Amy Murphy was already making waves in the racing world. Last August she gained her trainer’s license, departed from the security of a job as Assistant Trainer and set up a race yard, becoming the youngest trainer in Britain.  Her first season got off to a phenomenal start with nine winners and 12 placings from just 30 runners.

Amy Murphy Racing

Training racehorses was the dream from her early pony-mad childhood days. “I was in the Pony Club and did a lot of hunting but I was bitten by the racing bug” Amy explains. I started riding out for local trainers at 15 years old and I became fascinated by the training, buying, management and everything else involved in the industry. I loved the perfectionism and attention to minor details that could be the difference to winning or losing. So I decided that is what I wanted to do.”

Amy’s racing pedigree is excellent- her father Paul is a highly regarded breeder of Flat and National Hunt horses and she grew up on Whychnor Park Stud in Staffordshire deeply entrenched in the world of racing. “Whenever dad had a runner I was always sick that day so I could go to the races,” Murphy laughs. “But Dad was clear with me and told me that I had to get an education before I went into racing.”

Amy Murphy Racing

This started at Hartpury College where Amy completed a course in Equine Science. On finishing here she went straight into getting practical experience. ”I wanted to learn from the best” she says. This included a job with trainer Tom Dascombe before a winter spent in Sydney with leading female trainer Gai Waterhouse. On her return, Amy was then offered an enviable position as Assistant Trainer to Luca Cumani, arguably one of the best flat trainers in the world. This was followed by a stint with one of the best known National Hunt trainers, Nicky Henderson.

After less than a year training from her base Hamilton Stables in Newmarket, Amy has already amassed 27 horses with 12 owners- a mix of Flat and National Hunt horses. These include a Middle Eastern Royalty and Amy is just setting up an affordable racing club “so people can enjoy the social side without huge outlay” she explains. “It’s a small operation at the moment but my dream is to get the business off the ground and eventually be a big trainer with 100 horses” she says “In the short term it’s about keeping my horses healthy and fit”.

And being a woman in a heavily male dominated world? “It just makes me more determined” she states. “It’s certainly never put me off. Although racing is changing and woman are proving they can do it, both as trainers and jockeys.”

Amy Murphy Racing

A typical day starts around 5am and finishes around 6pm and Amy rides out on the gallops with the other stable staff. Unsurprisingly, Amy’s year round season allows for few days off. “It’s seven days a week most of the time but I take the odd Sunday off, which I like to spend with my family” she says.

As well as training and overseeing the day-to-day running of the yard, Amy deals with much of the admin and promoting the business. “Horse Scout will be a great asset to my business in terms of marketing and building up my network” she says.

LAST BOOK YOU READ- AP McCoy’s Autobiography.

HOW DO YOU START YOUR DAY- A Coffee with lots of sugar.

GUILTY PLEASURE- Galaxy chocolate. WHAT COULD YOU NOT

LIVE WITHOUT- My Labrador puppy, Milo.

BIGGEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR CAREER SO FAR- There are so many! Obviously all the trainers I have worked for but also my Dad, Paul Murphy. He has been a real mentor, particularly on the business side.

PHILOSPOHY-  You never stop learning. Anywhere I go, I walk in with open eyes.

To find out more about Amy Murphy or her racing club visit www.amymurphyracing.com

Amy Murphy Racing