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The Top Female Jockeys of All Time

In the thrilling world of horse racing, female jockeys are too often overlooked yet they continually defy the odds. They have established themselves as formidable competitors in an arena traditionally dominated by men. At, we take immense pride in offering competitive odds on all female horse races, celebrating the remarkable skill and dedication these athletes bring to the track.

The careers of these women extend far beyond the racecourse, inspiring a new generation of talent and reshaping perceptions in the world of equestrian sports. Here we will introduce you to some of the top female jockeys of all time and look at the influence they have had on the sport.

Julie Krone - A Trailblazing Champion

Julie Krone, born on July 24, 1963, in Benton Harbor, Michigan, is a name synonymous with ground-breaking achievements in the world of horse racing. Growing up in an environment steeped in equestrian tradition, Krone’s journey began by following in her mother’s footsteps, showing horses from a young age. The turning point in her life came at 14 when she was inspired by Steve Cauthen’s Triple Crown victory, setting her on the path to becoming a jockey.

Krone’s professional debut in 1981 at Tampa Bay Downs marked the start of an illustrious career. She quickly made her mark, notching up her first race win within a month. Her rise in the horse racing world was meteoric, leading to her historic victory in 1993 at the Belmont Stakes aboard Colonial Affair. This win etched her name in history as the first and only female jockey to triumph in a Triple Crown race.

Her career, spanning over two decades, saw her amass a staggering 3,704 starts, solidifying her status as perhaps the most successful female jockey in America. Beyond her racing achievements, Krone’s induction into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame and her numerous awards, including ESPN’s Professional Female Athlete of the Year (1993) and the Women’s Sports Foundation’s Wilma Rudolph Courage Award (2004), reflect her unparalleled contribution to horse racing.

Despite retiring in 1999, Krone’s passion for the sport led her to a brief comeback in 2002, during which she became the first female to win a Breeders’ Cup race in 2003. Her legacy extends beyond her wins, inspiring countless women to pursue their dreams in the world of horse racing.

Michelle Payne - Defying Odds Down Under

Michelle Payne, born on September 29, 1985, in Miners Rest, Australia, is a quintessential example of resilience and determination in horse racing. As the youngest of ten children, Payne grew up in a family deeply embedded in the racing world. Her introduction to professional racing at the tender age of 15 was just the beginning of a remarkable journey marked by both triumph and adversity.

In 2015, Payne created history by becoming the first woman to win the Melbourne Cup, one of the most prestigious horse racing events in the world. Riding Prince of Penzance, she overcame staggering odds of 100-1, a victory that resonated far beyond the racetrack. This achievement was not only a personal milestone but also a powerful statement for female jockeys globally.

Over her career, Payne has amassed over 700 starts, a testament to her skill and tenacity. Her dual role as a trainer and jockey, a rare feat in the racing world, further underscores her multifaceted talent. Her accolades, including the Chairman’s Award and induction into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame, reflect her significant impact on the sport.

Rosie Napravnik - Breaking Boundaries in the U.S.

Rosie Napravnik, born on February 9, 1988, in Mendham, New Jersey, has etched her name in the annals of horse racing as one of the most successful female jockeys in the United States. Napravnik’s passion for horse racing was nurtured from a young age, influenced by her parents’ involvement in the horse industry. Her journey began with pony races and eventing, eventually leading her to leave high school in her senior year to pursue a career in Thoroughbred racing.

Her debut race was nothing short of a fairy tale, as she won her very first race, heralding the arrival of a formidable talent. Napravnik’s career is adorned with numerous major wins, including the prestigious 2011 Louisiana Derby and the Kentucky Oaks in 2012 and 2014. Significantly, she stands as the only woman to have competed in all three Triple Crown races.

Among her many achievements, Napravnik’s victories in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Distaff are particularly notable, making her the first woman to win two Breeders’ Cups. Despite retiring from horse racing in 2014, Napravnik’s influence in the sport continues as she assists in training horses and advocates for repurposing OTTBs (off the track Thoroughbreds) for new careers. Napravnik’s story is a testament to the potential of female jockeys to reach the pinnacle of success in the competitive world of horse racing​​​​.

Chantal Sutherland - Canada’s Racing Icon

Chantal Sutherland, born on February 23, 1976, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, stands out as a multi-faceted figure in the world of horse racing. Not only is she an accomplished jockey, but also a model and TV personality. Sutherland’s journey in horse racing began after graduating from college, when she developed an interest in Thoroughbred racing, spurred by her father’s involvement with Standardbreds.

Her racing career took off in 2000 with her first win at the Woodbine Racetrack. Over the years, Sutherland has accumulated a series of major victories in both Canada and the United States. Her wins include the Miami Mile Handicap, Eclipse Stakes, Hollywood Gold Cup, and Sunset Handicap. A remarkable milestone in her career was becoming the first female jockey to win the prestigious Santa Anita Handicap.

Sutherland also made history as the first female jockey to participate in the Dubai World Cup. Her career, marked by over 1,060 wins, is a testament to her skill and determination in a competitive sport. Chantal Sutherland’s journey is not just about her triumphs on the racetrack; it’s also about breaking stereotypes and inspiring future generations of female jockeys.

Rachael Blackmore - Ireland’s Racing Sensation

Rachael Blackmore, born on July 11, 1989, in Killenaule, Ireland, has emerged as a remarkable force in horse racing. Her journey began with competing in Pony Club shows and pony racing, laying the groundwork for her future in the sport. Blackmore’s academic pursuits at the University of Limerick, where she graduated with a degree in equine science, further solidified her commitment to horse racing.

Blackmore’s professional breakthrough came in 2015, and she quickly ascended to prominence in the sport. In 2017, she became the first woman to win Ireland’s conditional riders’ championship. Her first Grade 1 race victory, achieved in April 2019 aboard Honeysuckle, was a significant milestone. Blackmore continued to break barriers, notably at the Cheltenham Festival, where she won the Champion Hurdle and the Ruby Walsh Trophy.

Her most historic achievement came in 2021 when she became the first female jockey to win the Grand National, riding Minella Times. Blackmore’s success has not only elevated her status in the world of horse racing but has also served as an inspiration for aspiring female jockeys globally.

Pioneers and Ground Breakers

The history of horse racing is enriched by pioneering women who have set remarkable precedents in a sport once exclusively male-dominated.

  • Diane Crump stands as an emblem of courage and resilience. She broke gender barriers as the first woman to compete in a pari-mutuel race in the U.S. and later, in the Kentucky Derby, navigating through a realm of opposition and disbelief.
  • Kathy Kusner, another trailblazer, is celebrated as the first licensed female jockey in the U.S. Beyond the racetrack, her talent shone in the Olympics as an accomplished equestrian.

This illustrious list also includes influential figures like Emma-Jayne Wilson, who redefined Canadian horse racing with her historic wins; Hayley Turner, whose accolades in British racing mark her as a figure of immense success; and Donna Barton Brothers, renowned for her triumphs in American horse racing and subsequent career in broadcasting. Each of these women not only achieved remarkable feats in their careers but also significantly contributed to paving the way for future generations of female jockeys​​​​​​.

Contemporary Standouts

In recent years, several female jockeys have continued to make significant strides in horse racing, furthering the path blazed by their predecessors.

  • Hayley Turner, from Nottinghamshire, England, stands out as one of the UK’s most successful female jockeys in flat racing. Her remarkable accomplishments include winning major races like the July Cup and Nunthorpe Stakes, making her a prominent figure in British horse racing.
  • Jamie Kah has emerged as a star in Australian racing, renowned for her extraordinary achievements, including winning 100 races in a Melbourne Metropolitan racing season, a record for any jockey.
  • Anna Lee Aldred’s legacy as an early pioneer remains influential. She was the first female to receive a jockey’s license and had a successful career, later opening a riding school and performing as a trick rider.

These contemporary standouts not only exemplify excellence in their field but also continue to inspire and shape the future of horse racing for women globally​​​​.

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