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Diversity Among Jockeys and Trainers In International Horse Racing

Cropped shot of a group of unrecognizable female jockeys riding their horses out on the farm

Horse racing is one of the few sports in the world that enables male and female athletes to compete against each other. However, the success achieved by women has been achieved following years of campaigning for equal rights within the sport, and only now are the best female riders finally getting the recognition that they deserve.

Cropped shot of a young female jockey sitting on her wreath-wearing horse after winning a race
Cropped shot of a young female jockey sitting on her wreath-wearing horse after winning a race (Photo via Envato Elements)

Making the breakthrough within the sport was met with resistance from trainers and owners in the early history of the sport, but it is incredibly unlikely that any connections will now overlook the chance of having a woman take the ride if they have equal ability to their male counter-parts. But, who have been some of the most successful female trainers and riders throughout history?

DIANE CRUMP

The success that has been achieved by female riders throughout modern history is unlikely to have been achieved without the breakthrough made by Diane Crump. The jockey became the first ever female rider to compete in a part-mutuel betting race within the United States. The decision to allow her the chance to ride in the race was extremely controversial, which was highlighted by the fact that she needed to get a police escort through the crowds at Hialeah Park.

So, the decision was vindicated, as her inclusion saw horse racing gain a positive reaction within the mainstream media. Crump would later break new ground later in her career after becoming the first women to take a ride in the Kentucky Derby. Following the end of her riding career, Crump went into training, before returning to active competition on track until 1999.

ROSIE NAPRAVNIK

Rosie Napravnik at the 139th Preakness
Rosie Napravnik at the 139th Preakness

There have been few more celebrated jockeys in the United States than Rosie Napravnik. The U.S. rider began her racing career in 2005, and would regularly rank among the top earners throughout her career. Such was the success that she achieved on track that she ranked inside the top ten for three straight years. Napravnik landed the Louisiana Derby in 2011, before finishing ninth in the Kentucky Derby aboard Pants on Fire.

In the following year, she broke the total win record set by Julie Krone, while she would also become the first female to ride the winner of the Kentucky Oaks. A second victory in the Classic arrived in 2014 when aboard Untapable. Napravnik is also one of two women to have won a race at the Breeders’ Cup, with her second victory coming aboard Untapable in the Distaff. In 2023, she would achieve her best Triple Crown finishes when taking fifth in the Derby and third in the Preakness Stakes. Napravnik announced her retirement from the sport following the 2014 Breeders’ Cup, but she remains connected to the sport, playing a key role in Joe Sharp’s training operation.

JENA ANTONUCCI

Further glass ceilings were broken through in training back in 2023, as Jena Antonucci became the first women to train the winner of a Triple Crown race. The success made international headlines, as Arcangelo landed a memorable success in the Belmont Stakes. You can check Belmont Stakes best bets by TwinSpires to know more about this event.

As well as winning the Triple Crown race, the runner would later score in the G1 Travers Stakes, which meant that Antonucci became just the second female to train the winner of the prestigious race in its 154-year history.

Antonucci’s breakthrough in the sport came under the guidance of D. Wayne Lukas after riding out for the Hall of Famer from a young age. She took out her own license, before landing a first winner at Tampa Bay Downs in March 2010. A first graded stakes win was achieved with Doctor J Dub in the Turf Monster Stakes in 2016. To date, Antonucci has won over 170 races and has picked up over $7.3 million in prize money.

JESSICA HARRINGTON

There are few more popular trainers across the United Kingdom and Ireland than Jessica Harrington. Harrington was born in London, before moving to Ireland for her childhood in 1949. She was tutored from home before attending school aged 12. Harrington’s first steps into training were taken in 1989 after gaining her training license, and she was recognised as one of Ireland’s top three-day event riders. The trainer would land a number of huge purses during her early career, which included successes in the Galway Hurdle and the Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle.

Harrington has achieved seven victories at the Cheltenham Festival, with the standout success coming with Sizing John in the Gold Cup. The same runner would follow up to win the Irish Grand National in the following month. Harrington has been an excellent cross-code trainer throughout her career, having also landed memorable victories on the flat with Alpha Centauri in the Irish 1,000 Guineas and Magical Lagoon in the Irish Oaks. The former would also give Harrington her first major victory on French soil in the Prix Jacques Le Marois in 2018.

Full length shot of a group of attractive young female jockeys riding their horses out on the farm
Photo via Envato Elements
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