On the eve of International Women’s Day, Arena Racing Company (“ARC”) is delighted to announce further details about the forthcoming Silk Series – an exciting new race series exclusively for female jockeys.
The Silk Series is a new initiative which will see female jockeys, both professional and amateur, compete in races hosted at nine Ladies’ Days across ARC racecourses in 2017.
The nine races will have total prize money of £100,000. The first eight races in the series will be Class 4 Handicaps worth £10,000 each and the final race, on Ladies’ Day of the St Leger Festival at Doncaster Racecourse, will be a Class 3 Handicap worth £20,000. Full details of the conditions for each race will be published by British Horseracing Authority (“BHA”) in due course as part of the programme of races for the year.
The dates of the races are listed below:
||Friday 12 May
||Friday 14 July
||Wednesday 19 July
||Saturday 29 July
||Monday 31 July
||Thursday 10 August
||Friday 18 August
||Saturday 19 August
||Thursday 14 September
Leading apprentice jockey Hollie Doyle is the official ambassador of The Silk Series and will be seeking to compete in the series over the summer. Hollie said: “The Silk Series is a wonderful opportunity for female jockeys to showcase their talents to a wide audience. In the long run, I hope it can help encourage owners and trainers to use female jockeys more often on their horses. I am really looking forward to taking part in The Silk Series.”
Jockeys will be awarded points for winning and being placed in each of the nine races. The points system will be as follows:
1st Place: 20 points
2nd Place: 16 points
3rd Place: 12 points
4th Place 8 points
5th Place: 4 points
6th Place: 2 points
If there is a dead heat for first place the two jockeys will each receive 18 points (based on splitting the points available for first and second) and the third jockey to cross the line will receive 12 points.
The leading female jockey at the end of The Silk Series will be awarded ‘The Tufnell Trophy’ in memory of Meriel Tufnell MBE who was Great Britain’s first Female Champion Jockey in 1972, a feat she matched in 1973 along with also becoming European Female Champion Jockey. In addition to her success on the racecourse she also founded the Lady Jockeys’ Association – the first such body in the world. The presentation of The Tufnell Trophy will take place on the afternoon of Thursday 14 September at Doncaster Racecourse.
As part of hosting The Silk Series ARC is excited to partner with Cancer Research UK to raise money for the charity’s pioneering work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. From the sale of each ticket sold for ARC’s 2017 Ladies Day series, 75 pence will be donated to the charity. Cancer Research UK will have a presence at all nine Ladies’ Days fixtures with racegoers having the opportunity to engage with and support the charity.
ARC Group Director of Partnerships, David Leyden Dunbar said: “We were delighted with the support we received in October when we announced that The Silk Series would be part of our summer flat racing programme. On the eve of International Women’s Day, we are pleased to be able to confirm further details about the series ahead of it commencing in May at Lingfield Park.”
Executive Director of Philanthropy and Partnerships at Cancer Research UK, Frances Milner, said: “We’re delighted to be working with ARC and The Silk Series. It’s a brilliant opportunity to raise awareness of our life-saving work and the money raised at these races will help fund vital research into beating cancer sooner.”
By way of background the timeline below shows some of the major milestones for female jockeys in the last 45 years:
- 1972 – First ever race for female jockeys at Kempton Park which was won by Meriel Tufnell
- 1972 – Meriel Tufnell becomes Great Britain’s first Female Champion Jockey
- 1973 – Meriel Tufnell becomes European Female Champion Jockey
- 1976 – Diana Thorne becomes the first woman to ride a winner under National Hunt rules
- 1982 – Geraldine Rees becomes the first female jockey to complete in the Grand National finishing 8th on Cheers
- 1987 – Gee Armytage becomes the first female jockey to win at the Cheltenham Festival winning the Kim Muir Challenge Cup and Mildmay of Flete Challenge Cup in the same year
- 1987 – Gay Kelleway is first woman to win at Royal Ascot on board Sprowston Boy in the Queen Alexandra Stakes
- 1993 – Julie Krone is the first female jockey to win an American Classic at the Breeders’ Cup on board Colonial Affair in the Belmont Stakes
- 1997 – Alex Greaves became first woman to win a Group 1 when dead-heating in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York on board Ya Malak
- 2008 – Hayley Turner becomes the first woman to ride 100 winners in the UK
- 2011 – Fourteen years after Alex Greaves’ success Hayley Turner becomes only the second women to win a Group 1 on board Dream Ahead in the Darley July Cup at Newmarket
- 2011 – Carlisle Racecourse hosts the first ever race meeting solely for female jockeys
- 2012 – Katie Walsh remains the highest place female jockey in the Grand National finishing 3rd on Seabass
- 2015 – The Girls team claims its first victory in The Shergar Cup at Ascot Racecourse and Sammy-Jo Bell wins the Silver Saddle as the leading jockey at the race meeting
- 2015 – Michelle Payne becomes the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup in Australia on board Prince of Penzance at odds of 100/1
- 2015 – Lizzie Kelly becomes the first female jockey to win a Grade 1 over jumps riding Tea For Two to victory in the Feltham Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day
- 2017 – ARC launch The Silk Series – a pioneering new £100,000 race series for female jockeys