[L]eading riders and stars of the future are heading to Cumbria in search of glory at the world’s most prestigious all-female jockey race meeting.
Carlisle Racecourse’s Ladies Night has been at the forefront of promoting and celebrating women in racing for almost a decade.
This year’s eagerly-awaited meeting – on Monday August 6 – gives leading professionals, up-and-coming apprentices and amateur jockeys the chance to shine.
And on a night of true Girl Power it is very fitting that Spice Girl Melanie C will host the annual Party In The Paddock with a special post-racing DJ set.
Josephine Gordon is this year’s Ladies Night Race Day Ambassador. The Newmarket-based jockey knows Carlisle well as she rode a Ladies Night winner at Carlisle in 2016 on her way to becoming the British flat racing Champion Apprentice.
Josephine said: “It’s a real honour to be Race Day Ambassador for the UK’s only all-female jockey race day.
“I am thoroughly looking forward to the meeting – it’s a really good experience. The atmosphere is brilliant, the crowd is normally huge so it’s a great day.
“The landscape has changed for women jockeys. There are now a lot more females coming through the ranks so this is a great event to show that talent.
“Carlisle is a testing track for both horse and jockey, you can really teach a horse something there. Added to that, top northern trainers will be there competing against each other, so it makes for a great day.”
Like many racecourses across the UK, Carlisle has held an annual Ladies Day for a number of years. But what makes Carlisle’s Ladies Night different is that it was the world’s first ever, and is still the UK’s only, all-female jockey meeting.
Rachel Richardson, who landed a double at Carlisle’s Ladies Night in 2017, added: “It’s such a great event – it’s a real chance to pick up a full card of rides and that gives you plenty of chances.
“This race meeting gives young up-and-coming jockeys a real chance. You only need something to run well or get a winner and it can make such a major difference and really help your career. You can really make a name for yourself.”
Apprentice Paula Muir approaches Ladies Night in the form of her young career. The 23-year-old recently landed a double at Redcar to go alongside July wins at Ayr and Thirsk.
Paula, based at Michael Dods’ yard in County Durham, is encouraged by the number of female jockeys now racing competitively and believes the all-female card can only help.
She said: “It’s a good meeting for the girls. I think the more girls see the success that Josephine Gordon, Rachel Richardson and others have the more it encourages them to think they can do it themselves.
“And obviously, it’s great when we get one over the boys!”
Fellow apprentice Faye McManoman, who rode a winner at Ladies Night last year and has followed up with more winners at Carlisle this season, said: “I love it at Carlisle – it’s without a doubt my favourite racecourse!
“The support is fantastic, everyone at the course is just so lovely and it’s a great track to ride on. It fills me with confidence every time I go there so I can’t wait to ride there again.”
And Gemma Tutty will be hoping to go one better after a number of second places at Carlisle’s Ladies Night in recent years. Gemma said: “Ladies night is a brilliant event – all the girls love it. I’ve had so many seconds there so hopefully I can change that this year!
“It’s the only all-female jockey race meeting in the UK so to have it in the north of England is fantastic. It is the chance to get on horses that we might not normally get the chance to ride and build up an association with a new trainer.”
All jockeys in the field will be competing for the Durdar Trophy. Previously won by the great Hayley Turner it is awarded to the most successful jockey on the evening.
Molly Dingwall, Carlisle Racecourse’s general manager, said: “Carlisle has been at the forefront of promoting female jockeys and women in racing for many years, so we are honoured to host this unique and celebrated event.
“The evening gives both amateurs and professionals the chance to get a greater number of rides than they would perhaps normally get. And that is vital for riders who are starting out and trying to make a name for themselves in the sport. Jockeys really do have the chance to raise their profile here on the night.
“It is also a great social occasion and this year we are delighted Melanie C will lead our Party In The Paddock. It should be another wonderful evening both on and off the track.”
Tickets for Ladies Night are on sale now via carlisle.thejockeyclub.co.uk or by calling 0344 579 3002. Gates open on Monday August 6 at 2.40pm. First race is 5.40pm. Melanie C’s DJ set will start after the last race at 8.40pm