For decades, unlike almost every other sport, male and female jockeys have competed on level terms, but in Ireland some men find themselves feeling less than equal.
Admittedly, it’s a guy – former champion Paul Townend – who leads the riders’ title race for the 2018-19 jumps season – but very much hard on his heels is Rachael Blackmore following a prolific run.
However, to steal a favourite phrase from the horse racing formbook, it’s a case of ‘pair well clear’ of the pack, a group headed by Davy Russell and Mark Walsh; after an injury-hit time of it, perennial leading contender Ruby Walsh is further behind.
And, as a jockey very much in favour with aviation tycoon Michael O’Leary’s vast, highly-influential Gigginstown House Stud racing operation, managed by his brother Eddie, the odds on Blackmore winning are nothing fancy.
Were the 29-year-old, who held a decisive advantage through the early months of the campaign, to end up in front when the season concludes at the Punchestown Festival in May, she’d be racing’s first female professional jump jockey champion. Such a result would be a landmark for racing. More