John Berry said: “nearly all of the most talented horses in Britain are owned by Muslims”
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
By Graham Dench 7:56PM 14 OCT 2016
QATAR Racing manager David Redvers has strongly refuted a claim by trainer John Berry that the principal reason female jockeys will “continue to be at a disadvantage” is that nearly all the best horses in Britain are owned by Muslims.
Berry was commenting in his blog on a column written by Steve Dennis in Thursday’s Racing Post which suggested that, despite her obvious talent, it will be tough for champion apprentice Josephine Gordon – who has no ride at Saturday’s fixtures – once she has lost her claim.
Berry wrote: “There is only one area in which female jockeys are going to be at a disadvantage . . . nearly all of the most talented horses in Britain are owned by Muslims.
“I would be very surprised to see a female jockey appointed to a senior position among the riding ranks of a Muslim racing operation, irrespective of how well qualified she might be. Which means female jockeys don’t ride in big races very often.”
Redvers said: “I can speak only for our organisation but Sheikh Fahad has never had any problem putting up a female jockey if he felt she was the best available for the horse. There’s only one race [at Ascot] in which an apprentice might ride, because why would you use an apprentice in a Group 1 race when all of the best jockeys are there?
“As to whether it’s correct Arabs and Muslims don’t want to put female jockeys up, the answer clearly is 100 per cent ‘no’.
“You have only to look at Arabian racing – many of the best riders are female and they’re used regularly. I’m not an expert, but there are many females involved in riding and training Arabian racehorses.
“And in our own organisation we have Hetta Stevens and Louise Cornwell running two of our operations.”
Harry Herbert echoed Redvers’ words on behalf of Al Shaqab Racing.
Racing manager Herbert, who in the summer vehemently denied Criquette Head-Maarek’s gender had anything to do with Al Shaqab removing horses from the trainer’s Chantilly stable – as the trainer claimed – said: “A jockey’s sex has no bearing whatsoever so far as Al Shaqab is concerned, but obviously we have our own retained riders for many of our horses.
“We’ve used Josephine Gordon and Georgia Cox and if there’s another situation when either of them, or Hollie Doyle, might suit a horse, we wouldn’t hesitate to book them. Their sex isn’t an issue if a trainer thinks one of them is best suited to our horse.”