Turner against ‘unfair’ allowance

Group One-winning jockey Hayley Turner believes it would be a bad idea to give female riders a weight allowance in Britain.

Hayley Turner: Against female jockey weight allowance

News emerged on Friday that from March, France Galop is to introduce a 2kg allowance for female jockeys in the majority of races run across the Channel, both on the Flat and over jumps.

Although Listed and Group races will be exempt, France Galop said in a press release the move will cover around 90 per cent of the French programme as the ruling body attempts to increase opportunities for female riders.

Jean-Pierre Colombu, vice president of France Galop, said: "The introduction of a weight reduction for women is a real opportunity for them.

"This measure is likely to encourage owners and trainers to make as much use of the many women riders within the industry in the afternoons as during morning training."

Nottinghamshire-born Turner, who was crowned joint-champion apprentice in 2005 with Saleem Golam, retired at the end of the 2015 Flat season after regularly breaking new ground during her career.

She became the first female rider to win a Group One contest outright in Britain when steering the David Simcock-trained Dream Ahead to victory in the July Cup at Newmarket in 2011 and followed up when Margot Did won the Nunthorpe Stakes for Michael Bell a month later.

Turner, who also became the first woman to ride 100 winners in a calendar year in 2008, made a mini comeback in last summer's Shergar Cup at Ascot, but has given up riding once more and feels female jockeys should compete on a level playing field with men in the interests of fairness.

She said: "It just seems a bit unfair on the lads. It's a hard job whether you're male or female and they're putting in all the groundwork with the long journeys and riding out at the crack of dawn.

"Then the girls are being given 4lb and the lads get nothing, it seems a bit unfair in that respect.

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"I'm sure they (British Horseracing Authority) will sit back and watch what happens in France, but I very much doubt it will happen here.

"I'd be disappointed if it did, to be honest.

"It's good they're trying to help, but I think there's a lot more subtle ways of doing it."

Josephine Gordon, who was last season's champion apprentice, added: "I think there's probably pros and cons to it.

"I think an allowance would give a lot more females more opportunities to get rides at lower weights, but personally, I find it a bit offensive.

"Last year I had a claim and was competing against the male apprentices and I won it (apprentice title) fair and square.

"If it happens over here, it happens. I'll take it as it comes."

Jane Elliott had ridden three winners from her latest five rides prior to the start of racing at Lingfield on Friday.

She also feels giving female riders an allowance would be something of an insult.

"It's a bit of a shock. Obviously allowances have been mentioned before, but I think it can almost come across as a bit patronising," the jockey told At The Races.

"If you did get a 4lb allowance, I'd be expecting to get five rides a day in handicaps.

"It's such a big amount of weight to be giving jockeys."

Leading male jockey Adam Kirby is also against the move.

He said: "It's ridiculous, isn't it?

"Racing is improving and I think apprentices are all given a fair crack at it these days, as long as they work hard and go about the job properly.

"Four pounds is two lengths. I appreciate women might not be as strong as boys, but riding in races is not about strength, it's about positioning, rhythm and things like that."

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