What's happening at Sedgefield


Tue, Mar 7, 2017

• New £100,000 race series for female jockeys across ARC racecourses in 2017
• Hollie Doyle named as jockey ambassador for The Silk Series
• Follow The Silk Series on twitter - @SilkSeries using #SilkSeries and on Instagram - thesilkseries

On the eve of International Women’s Day, Arena Racing Company (“ARC”) is delighted to announce further details about the forthcoming Silk Series - an exciting new race series exclusively for female jockeys.

The Silk Series is a new initiative which will see female jockeys, both professional and amateur, compete in races hosted at nine Ladies’ Days across ARC racecourses in 2017.

The nine races will have total prize money of £100,000. The first eight races in the series will be Class 4 Handicaps worth £10,000 each and the final race, on Ladies’ Day of the St Leger Festival at Doncaster Racecourse, will be a Class 3 Handicap worth £20,000. Full details of the conditions for each race will be published by British Horseracing Authority (“BHA”) in due course as part of the programme of races for the year.

The dates of the races are listed below:

Racecourse Date Prize Fund
Lingfield Park Friday 12 May £10,000
Chepstow Friday 14 July £10,000
Great Yarmouth Wednesday 19 July £10,000
Newcastle Saturday 29 July £10,000
Royal Windsor Monday 31 July £10,000
Brighton Thursday 10 August £10,000
Wolverhampton Friday 18 August £10,000
Bath Saturday 19 August £10,000
Doncaster Thursday 14 September £20,000

Leading apprentice jockey Hollie Doyle is the official ambassador of The Silk Series and will be seeking to compete in the series over the summer. Hollie said: “The Silk Series is a wonderful opportunity for female jockeys to showcase their talents to a wide audience. In the long run, I hope it can help encourage owners and trainers to use female jockeys more often on their horses. I am really looking forward to taking part in The Silk Series.”

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 jockeys will each receive 18 points (based on splitting the points available for first and second) and the third jockey to cross the line will receive 12 points.

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 presentation of The Tufnell Trophy will take place on the afternoon of Thursday 14 September at Doncaster Racecourse.

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.

ARC Group Director of Partnerships, David Leyden Dunbar said: “We were delighted with the support we received in October when we announced that The Silk Series would be part of our summer flat racing programme. On the eve of International Women’s Day, we are pleased to be able to confirm further details about the series ahead of it commencing in May at Lingfield Park.”

Executive Director of Philanthropy and Partnerships at Cancer Research UK, Frances Milner, said: “We’re delighted to be working with ARC and The Silk Series. It’s a brilliant opportunity to raise awareness of our life-saving work and the money raised at these races will help fund vital research into beating cancer sooner.”

By way of background the timeline below shows some of the major milestones for female jockeys in the last 45 years:
• 1972 – First ever race for female jockeys at Kempton Park which was won by Meriel Tufnell
• 1972 - Meriel Tufnell becomes Great Britain’s first Female Champion Jockey
• 1973 – Meriel Tufnell becomes European Female Champion Jockey
• 1976 – Diana Thorne ¬becomes the first woman to ride a winner under National Hunt rules
• 1982 – Geraldine Rees becomes the first female jockey to complete in the Grand National finishing 8th on Cheers
• 1987 – Gee Armytage becomes the first female jockey to win at the Cheltenham Festival winning the Kim Muir Challenge Cup and Mildmay of Flete Challenge Cup in the same year
• 1987 – Gay Kelleway is first woman to win at Royal Ascot on board Sprowston Boy in the Queen Alexandra Stakes
• 1993 – Julie Krone is the first female jockey to win an American Classic at the Breeders’ Cup on board Colonial Affair in the Belmont Stakes
• 1997 – Alex Greaves became first woman to win a Group 1 when dead-heating in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York on board Ya Malak
• 2008 – Hayley Turner becomes the first woman to ride 100 winners in the UK
• 2011 – Fourteen years after Alex Greaves’ success Hayley Turner becomes only the second women to win a Group 1 on board Dream Ahead in the Darley July Cup at Newmarket
• 2011 – Carlisle Racecourse hosts the first ever race meeting solely for female jockeys
• 2012 – Katie Walsh remains the highest place female jockey in the Grand National finishing 3rd on Seabass
• 2015 – The Girls team claims its first victory in The Shergar Cup at Ascot Racecourse and Sammy-Jo Bell wins the Silver Saddle as the leading jockey at the race meeting
• 2015 – Michelle Payne becomes the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup in Australia on board Prince of Penzance at odds of 100/1
• 2015 – Lizzie Kelly becomes the first female jockey to win a Grade 1 over jumps riding Tea For Two to victory in the Feltham Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day
• 2017 – ARC launch The Silk Series – a pioneering new £100,000 race series for female jockeys


For further information please contact:

Susannah Gill
Director of External Affairs
Arena Racing Company
Office: 020 7802 5120
Mobile: 07751 870 929

The Silk Series can be followed on twitter @SilkSeries and using the hashtag #SilkSeries, and on Instagram at thesilkseries.

A poster with the dates of the nine Silk Series races is attached with this press release, along with an images of Hollie Doyle.

About The Silk Series:

The Silk Series has been devised by ARC and Cancer Research UK in partnership with the sport’s Governing Body, the British Horseracing Authority. It is a new race series for female jockeys - both professional and amateur. The Silk Series begins in May 2017 and ends on Ladies Day at the St Leger Festival on 14 September 2017. The overarching aims of The Silk Series are twofold: firstly, to provide high profile racing opportunities for female jockeys; and secondly, to support Cancer Research UK’s pioneering work into beating cancer.

About ARC:

Arena Racing Company (“ARC”) is the largest racecourse operator in the UK. In 2017 ARC racecourses will host 540 fixtures with 1.2 million people attending racing at one of ARC’s racecourses each year.

ARC is made up of the following sixteen racecourses: Bath, Brighton, Chepstow, Doncaster, Ffos Las, Fontwell Park, Great Yarmouth, Hereford, Lingfield Park, Newcastle, Royal Windsor, Sedgefield, Southwell, Uttoxeter, Wolverhampton and Worcester.

ARC runs four of the six all-weather racecourses in the UK offering three different types of surface for horses to run on: Polytrack at Lingfield Park, fibresand at Southwell Racecourse and tapeta at Newcastle and Wolverhampton Racecourses – the only tapeta racing surfaces in Europe.

In 2013 ARC pioneered the All-Weather Championships which see horses compete throughout the winter for the chance of qualifying for a £1 million Finals Day on Good Friday at Lingfield Park. This initiative is helping raise the profile and prestige of all-weather racing in Great Britain.

ARC hosts racing at all levels of the sport from Class 7 through to Group 1s. Doncaster Racecourse is home to the world’s oldest Classic, the St Leger, run each year in September as part of the four-day St Leger Festival. Feature jumps races include the Grade 1 Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle Racecourse, the Welsh National at Chepstow Racecourse and Midlands National at Uttoxeter Racecourse.

As well as racing, ARC also operates a hotel at Wolverhampton Racecourse, a hotel, spa resort and golf course at Lingfield Park and The Border Minstrel public house at Newcastle Racecourse in the grounds of Gosforth Park.

ARC is the majority shareholder in the horseracing TV channel At The Races which is broadcast on the Sky platform to c.14 million homes, and a JV partner with Racing UK in GBI Racing which sells UK and Irish Racing to betting shop operators around the world.

In 2015 ARC set up The Racing Partnership. This limited company represents the media rights of the 15 ARC owned-racecourses and the 7 independent racecourses Fakenham, Ffos Las, Hexham, Newton Abbot, Plumpton, Ripon and Towcester.
ARC plays a pivotal role in British Racing. It is a shareholder in British Champions Series and Racecourse Data Company; a signatory to a British Horseracing Authority’s and Horsemen’s Group Prize Money Agreement; and on the boards of the Racecourse Association (“RCA”), Great British Racing (“GBR”) and British Champion Series (“BCS”).

ARC employs over 500 permanent staff and engages with 3,500 casual staff for racing and events across its racecourses. Further information about ARC can be found at

About Cancer Research UK:
• Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research.
• Cancer Research UK’s pioneering work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives.
• Cancer Research UK receives no government funding for its life-saving research. Every step it makes towards beating cancer relies on every pound donated.
• Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of the progress that has already seen survival in the UK double in the last forty years.
• Today, 2 in 4 people survive their cancer for at least 10 years. Cancer Research UK’s ambition is to accelerate progress so that by 2034, 3 in 4 people will survive their cancer for at least 10 years.
• Cancer Research UK supports research into all aspects of cancer through the work of over 4,000 scientists, doctors and nurses.
• Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK's vision is to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.
For further information about Cancer Research UK's work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 0300 123 1022 or visit Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
About Meriel Tufnell MBE:
Meriel Tufnell was born on 12 December 1948 and died on 14 October 2002, aged 53 years. She rode her first winner on 6 May 1972 riding Scorched Earth who was owned by her mother and trained by Peter Bailey, and won in a field of 21 horses as a 50-1 outsider. Later in the same month she won again on Scorched Earth in the Never to Quarrel Stakes at Folkstone racecourse and on Hard Slipper in September making Meriel the first Lady Champion Jockey with three winners from seven rides in a 12-race series - a feat she matched in 1973 along with also becoming European Female Champion Jockey. In 1972, in addition to her success on the racecourse, she held a meeting at Haydock Park Racecourse where she founded the Lady Jockeys’ Association – the first such body in the world.
Meriel overcame adversity from the outset having been born with dislocated hip and suffering chronic asthma as a child. Despite this she went on to compete at Pony Club and a junior and senior level show-jumping before turning her hand to racing.

She was married to Glenn Humphrey from 1983-1994 - together they trained point-to-pointers and hunter chasers. Meriel later took up more sports such as shooting and golf. A considerably philanthropic figure, she raised large sums of money for charity through a variety of sporting activities, including playing 180 holes of golf in one day
Meriel Tufnell was appointed MBE in 1976.

About Hollie Doyle:

Hollie Doyle, 19, is an apprentice jockey based with leading flat trainer Richard Hannon in Wiltshire. In 2016 she rode 33 winners and is aiming to challenge for the Champion Apprentice Jockey title in 2017. She has been riding since she was very young gaining 10 winners in pony racing before becoming professional when she turned 16 years old.

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