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Girl power exerting its influence

09-December-2021 19:25
in General
by Peter McNeile

It was a day when Girl Power opened its shoulders to demonstrate even to the conservative backwater of horseracing that today's is an egalitarian society, whether between different races, different cultures, or merely different genders. 

Whilst the BHA was adjudicating on its first case of bullying within the sport, the card at Warwick showcased women riders and trainers across the piece to the best of their wide range of ability. 

Race winning trainers Lucy Wadham, Venetia Williams, Emma Lavelle and Deborah Cole have long overcome prejudice and fear to be exemplars of their profession in the training ranks. You certainly need a certain sort of robustness to become a trainer in the first instance; it's no trade for shrinking violets. 

And it must be said that plaintiff Bryony Frost has been riding out of her skin since the whole Frost-Dunne case came into the public domain, and it would appear she has carried public opinion with her, to judge from the reception to her winner in the Tingle Creek on Saturday, and subsequent winners yesterday and today at Warwick. She would probably say she lets her horses do the talking; not strictly true, as she's never been found short of words herself, but her self-deprecating style finds more friends than irritants, and she is very media-friendly. 

Tabitha Worsely, a graduate from the amateur ranks of Point-to-Pointing, is another highly accomplished woman rider elbowing her way to a place at racing's top table. A 9th winner of the season, this time for Richard Phillips, the affable master of Adlestrop Stables, and another never fojnd wanting with a pithy quote, made it two from two for the distaff side in Warwick's first two races of the day. 

For all the hoo-haa that the Frost-Dunne case has brought upon the image of racing, the sport should actually take pride in the fact that it, alongside other equestrian sport, is a rarity insofar as men and women compete on level terms against each other. In no ball sport do you find mixed teams, or women playing men. On the turf, all riders are equal, and perhaps we should make more of this. 

And whilst the details of the case have made uncomfortable reading, portraying a mysoginist sport at times, and an impression of "what goes on in the weighing room stays in the weighing room", it would be a miracle if every participant in our sport was best buddies with all his or her rivals. Sometimes, a little needle can spice up the reporting of events. I can't envisage a boxing match where the pugilists embraced each other cordially before the contest; it's part of the pysche to show aggression. 

This is not an apology for the behaviour that has occurred; rather a comment that the sport is fiercely competitive and directly or indirectly, fosters petty jealousies and feuds just like any other. 

It's called human nature. Deal with it.


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