My colleague and friend John Berry caused a bit of a stir in his blog (http://stable-life.blogspot.co.uk/) this week when he said that Muslim owners rarely use female jockeys. This caused the inevitable backlash from those who represent these owners with them saying that they employ a lot of female trainers - which doesn't really answer the question.
The numbers do suggest that the big Muslim owners rarely use a female jockey - a stat supplied by someone on Twitter said that of Qatar Racing's 1000+ runners in recent season, just three were ridden by female jockeys. Similarly, a quick look at the Racing Post's database will tell you that from Godolphin's 4,492 runners in the past five years, Hayley Turner was the only girl to wear the blue silks in two unsuccessful mounts.
It can be argued however that there are significantly fewer female jockeys than males with a licence - therefore they will be represented less in statistics. Some girls may feel hard done by that they have never ridden for Godolphin but then again there are plenty of male jockeys who have never pulled on the blue silks either. The recent publicity must have caught someone's attention as I notice that recently crowned Champion Apprentice Josephine Gordon has been declared to ride for Godolphin at Pontefract on Monday - maybe their lack of female representation wasn't intentional...just the opportunity has never arisen before.
I'm never afraid to use a female jockey if the time is right and that theory will be in evidence with this week's runners.
Tuesday will be a busy one with a trio of runners heading to Kempton.
Candesta came back from a break in fine form to win at Beverley last month but then could never get involved next time at Bath. His only win prior to that came in this very race last year so he clearly acts at the track and I don't see why he shouldn't go close in his follow-up bid.
In the other division of this race, Hodgkins Trust makes his debut for us since his owner claimed him last month. He had a bit of a cough when he arrived but he has been in good health over the past couple of weeks and has done plenty of work. I think the one mile trip might be a bit sharp for him but hopefully he can show some promise for the winter ahead.
Rounding off the evening will be another horse making his debut for us, Best Example.
Bought from Godolphin in August, we have taken our time with him to get him back to fitness as he was a big and burly horse when he arrived. He has taken everything in his stride and is now ready to run again. I hope he can show some promise but he will definitely improve for the run as he is likely to be a bit ring-rusty after a fair while off the track.
On Wednesday we will again be well represented with another three runners.
We will be back at Kempton as Star Of The Stage heads there to make amends for last week's no-show when he fluffed the start. He has to make the running or race prominently so it was always going to be a waste of time when he was slow away last time. He usually runs an honest race so hopefully he'll be thereabouts at the finish.
Closer to home at Newmarket, Our Cilla makes her debut. She actually looked likely to be one of our earlier two-year old runners in the spring but she started a growth spurt and went a bit weak. Her work in the last month or so has improved considerably and she could do with the run to further her education.
Accompanying her will be Mungo Madness. His handicap rating of 70 after three runs seems a bit steep and the only way to prove that to the handicapper is by running. He likes soft ground so any rain will be welcome but, as I said, I don't think he is very well handicapped.
Making it 'three threes' for the week may well be another trio of runners on Friday.
This time last year The Ducking Stool hadn't got her nose in front yet for the season before winning at Newbury and she heads back there for the same race in similar circumstances. With Yarmouth fixtures thin on the ground, opportunities at her favourite course have been a bit sparse but she still managed a couple of good efforts, including on firm ground at Newbury in the summer. She is always the first to lose her summer coat so she looks a bit woolly at the moment but that didn't stop her last year and I hope she can sign off the season with another victory.
The same day up at Doncaster we may have two runners in the same race with opportunities for both hard to find.
Dakota City is more of an all-weather performer nowadays but he has run some good races on the turf, despite things not going his way. His main aim will be for a win over the winter but it'll be nice to get a run into him again as he has been working well at home.
In the same race, Silver Alliance will be looking to bounce back from a bad day at the office at Newmarket last time. Prior to that he had won his last two races in similar company so hopefully he can regain the winning thread.
Secret Startegy is a horse I bought from Godolphin last month and his regime continues to step up a notch every week and he is within a month of a run now. To further his education, he had a jump out of the stalls this week and was very professional - he behaved well and jumped out smartly. Shares in him are still available - check out my OWNERSHIP page for more details.
THREE TO FOLLOW LEADERBOARD
Ross Birkett 69
Jean Allen 67
Annette Hall 67
Jonathan Kinge 66
Liam Doran 62
Gary Wardle 62
Michael Buckley 62
Barbara Walton 57
Maureen Case 56
Anthea Telford 56