During Women’s Sport Week, Arena Racing Company (“ARC”) is delighted to announce the launch of an exciting new race series for female jockeys – The Silk Series.This Silk Series is a new initiative designed to provide female jockeys, both professional and amateur, with the opportunity to participate in races hosted at nine Ladies’ Days at ARC racecourses in 2017.The prize fund for nine races making up The Silk Series will be a minimum of £100,000. The leading female jockey at the end of The Silk Series will be awarded ‘The Tufnell Trophy’ in memory of Meriel Tufnell MBE who was Great Britain’s first Female Champion Jockey in 1972, a feat she matched in 1973 along with also becoming European Female Champion Jockey. In addition to her success on the racecourse she also founded the Lady Jockeys’ Association – the first such body in the world.
The first race will be hosted at Lingfield Park on Friday 12 May 2017 with the final race held on Ladies Day of the St Leger meeting on Thursday 14 September 2017.
As part of hosting The Silk Series ARC is excited to partner with Cancer Research UK to raise money for the charity’s pioneering work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. From the sale of each ticket sold for ARC’s 2017 Ladies Day series, 75 pence will be donated to the charity. Cancer Research UK will have a presence at all nine Ladies’ Days fixtures with racegoers having the opportunity to engage with and support the charity.
The full list of race days is:
Lingfield Park Friday 12 May
Chepstow Friday 14 July
Great Yarmouth Wednesday 19 July
Newcastle Saturday 29 July
Brighton Thursday 10 August
Wolverhampton Friday 18 August
Bath Saturday 19 August
Royal Windsor Saturday 26 August
Doncaster Thursday 14 September
Races will be run over a variety of distances with horses aged three years and over eligible to take part. The exact race conditions are still to be agreed with the British Horseracing Authority (“BHA”) as part of the 2017 race programme.
Jockeys will be awarded points for winning and being placed in each of the nine races. The points system will be as follows:
1st Place: 20 points
2nd Place: 16 points
3rd Place: 12 points
4th Place 8 points
5th Place: 4 points
6th Place: 2 points
If there is a dead heat for first place the two horses will each receive 18 points (based on splitting the points available for first and second) and the third horse to cross the line will receive 12 points.
The Tufnell Trophy will be awarded to the jockey who wins the most points across the nine races. The presentation will take place on the afternoon of 14 September at Doncaster Racecourse.
ARC Group Director of Partnerships, David Leyden Dunbar said: “At ARC we pride ourselves on being creative and we are always seeking new ways to innovate and promote our sport. We believe the creation of The Silk Series will provide an excellent platform for the UK’s very best female jockeys to showcase their talents, while raising funds and awareness for Cancer Research UK. I’m delighted that our partnership is beginning with a commitment to ensure a donation from every ticket sold to our Ladies Days goes directly to the charity.”
Executive Director of Philanthropy and Partnerships at Cancer Research UK, Frances Milner said: “We are delighted that ARC has chosen to support Cancer Research UK through The Silk Series. It is a brilliant opportunity to raise awareness of our work and the money raised will help fund vital research into beating cancer.”
The partnership with Cancer Research UK is particularly poignant given Meriel Tufnell MBE died of cancer aged 53 in October 2002. Wynne Tufnell, Meriel’s brother said: “Meriel would be delighted to know that her name and memory is to be linked with The Silk Series. She was a pioneer in everything she did and she would welcome the new opportunities this initiative provides for female jockeys. As her family we look forward to presenting the winning female jockey with The Tufnell Trophy next September.”
Professional Jockeys Association, Executive Director (Racing) Dale Gibson said: “The PJA welcomes this new series of races for female jockeys and in particular we hope it will provide additional opportunities for young female apprentices to showcase their riding abilities.”
Amateur Jockeys Association of Great Britain (“AJA”) Chief Executive, Sarah Oliver said: “The AJA are most grateful to ARC for their initiative in launching this new Pro-Am Series which we know will be well supported by our members. This is hugely exciting news for lady jockeys to be given more opportunities to showcase their skills. In addition, on behalf of the AJA I would like to thank ARC for their generosity in supporting such an important charity.”
Amateur jockey Hayley Moore said: “This will be a great boost to the opportunities available to female amateur jockeys next year. It is always positive to have a chance to race against professional jockeys for good prize money on racedays with big crowds and The Silk Series promises to deliver all of these things. I very much hope to have the chance to ride in several of the races and even have a go at competing for The Tufnell Trophy.”