A NEW study has found the performance of female jockeys is equal to that of their male counterparts.

The study, which was carried out through the Thoroughbred Horseracing Industries MBA at the University of Liverpool, analysed data from a 14-year period and suggests once the quality of the horses they are riding is factored in, the performance of female jockeys is on a par with that of male jockeys.

With 11.3 per cent of professional licences held by female jockeys, and only 5.2 percent of available rides taken by female jockeys during the period of the study, the British Horseracing Authority has reiterated its intention to address the disparity.

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Chief executive Nick Rust said: "This study provides further evidence towards something that many in the industry have felt for some time - that there is no reason why female jockeys should not be considered as good as their male counterparts.

"We are proud that British racing is one of the few sports where men and women can compete on equal terms. However, if female jockeys are not being given the same opportunities as the men, then this cannot be considered as equality.

"Understanding why there are fewer female jockeys than male, and why those jockeys get fewer rides than the men - in particular in higher profile races - is something that we are determined to address, and will be considered by the sport's dedicated Diversity in Racing Steering Group.

"Racing should be based on values of fairness and respect. We intend to ensure that these values underpin all aspects of the sport and that British racing provides fair opportunities for all of its participants."

France Galop introduced a weight allowance for female riders in certain races last year and the BHA will consider the results of that initiative along with the the views of the Diversity in Racing Steering Group, the findings of this study and further statistical analysis to be undertaken internally to determine any short and long-term steps to improve equal opportunities for female jockeys.

Vanessa Cashmore, work based learning manager at the Northern Racing College, wrote the study and is hoping her analysis can make a difference.

She said: "This study strongly indicates that female jockeys are every bit as good as their male counterparts. I hope it helps to provide more opportunities for female jockeys, and also encourages more women to further their careers as race riders."

Susannah Gill, spokesperson for the Diversity in Racing Steering Group, added: "The research takes us one step closer to putting the tired argument about strength and capability on the scrap heap and focus on changing perception, on changing attitudes and most importantly driving behavioural change."