An unprecedented year for international women’s competitions as new audience figures show growth across major sports

Latest figures from the Women’s Sport Trust have revealed that major international women’s sporting events have continued to drive record-breaking audience figures with viewers watching for 9 hours and 58 minutes on average (1st January – 22nd October 2023).  This was driven not only by the FIFA Women’s World Cup, but the popularity of golf’s Solheim Cup and interest in England women’s cricket.

The key highlights from the Women’s Sport Trust report, with data and analysis from Futures Sport & Entertainment, include:

  • The Solheim Cup attracted record audiences in 2023, with 9.5 million hours viewed, in comparison to a previous best of 6.3 million hours in 2021. The event has attracted the highest live average audience for a women’s only sport property on Pay TV this year
  • 33% of Solheim Cup viewers did not watch the Ryder Cup showcasing a unique audience for women’s golf
  • England women’s cricketers achieved the highest audiences on record for an English summer, with 7.4 million viewers watching for 3 minutes or more, in comparison to the previous best of 6.2 million viewers
  • There were almost a quarter of a million online views (234,000) across Facebook and YouTube for the women’s rugby Red Roses series against Canada, despite no broadcaster showing the matches

These figures mirror other successful competitions earlier in the year such as the Netball World Cup which saw the 3 minute+ reach increase from 4.5m in 2019 to 5.6m in 2023 and The TikTok Women’s Six Nations, shown on BBC, which was the most viewed on record with 10.4m viewing hours on UK television in 2023, compared to the previous best of 7.7m in 2022.

Tammy Parlour, Chief Executive and Co-Founder of the Women’s Sport Trust, said: “It’s pleasing to see the growth trajectory in audience figures across a breadth of women’s sport.  Each sport is working hard to build and understand its audience and this work is paying off on an international level.”

The report also highlights a fall in domestic women’s sport audiences across football and cricket proving there is still more to be done in translating the international success into week in week out viewing.

  • The Women’s Hundred has seen average audiences in 2023 fall 15.5% since the inaugural season, although viewing hours did increase by 14.2% year-on-year
  • The opening 10 matches broadcast of the Barclays Women’s Super League across BBC and Sky Sports have seen early season viewing hours fall 25.8% in comparison to the opening 10 games last season, although there has been a decline in coverage hours and one fewer BBC match so far
  • Sky’s average audiences for the Barclays Women’s Super League have declined 20.5% year-on-year, although the BBC have seen a slight increase helped by the second most watched WSL game on record between Arsenal and Aston Villa (average audience of 746,000)

Tammy Parlour said, “We have entered a new phase of visibility, the industry is moving past looking at top line figures and is starting to delve deeper.  This will lead to more understanding of what is going to work on a domestic level to drive further viewership.  Women’s sport could be compared to a start-up and like any new industry needs to be allowed the space to test and learn, to know what is going to work best for this new and exciting audience opportunity.”

Blaithin Murphy appointed General Manager of Wincanton Racecourse

Blaithin Murphy has been appointed as the new General Manager of Wincanton Racecourse, The Jockey Club has announced today.

Murphy, 25, joined The Jockey Club in 2021 and recently completed the trainee General Manager programme.

She will succeed Jack Parkinson who will continue as General Manager of Exeter Racecourse, a post he has held since 2017. Parkinson will focus on operational delivery of Exeter’s rapidly growing conference and events business following a handover process at Wincanton.

Blaithin Murphy said: “”I am delighted to be appointed general manager at Wincanton Racecourse. Racecourse management has always been a career ambition of mine and racing is a lifelong passion. I would like to thank everyone at The Jockey Club who has supported me so far with a special thanks to Jack Parkinson for the time and guidance he has given me.”

Nadia Powell, Small Courses Director at The Jockey Club, said: “I’m delighted to welcome Blaithin as the new General Manager of Wincanton. Her passion for racing and racecourse management is clear and I look forward to working with her to continue Wincanton’s progress in the years to come.

I’d like to thank Jack for his dedication to Wincanton and know he will continue to maximise Exeter’s encouraging growth as a conference and events venue.”

Lucy Gurney, Chair of Women in Racing, added: “Congratulations to Blaithin on this fantastic new appointment. Blaithin is also a key part of the Women in Racing committee, volunteering her time to support the membership of the organisation and drive growth. The committee all wish Blaithin the best of luck as she commences her role at Wincanton.”

New WiR membership system now live!

Women in Racing is delighted to re-launch its membership system using Memberful, with a new website to improve overall user experience.

This much-improved system makes it easier for our members to manage and adjust their membership, improves how we communicate with members and the new website supports easier event booking and simple applications for both the bursary and mentoring programmes.

If your membership has lapsed and you wish to re-join WiR you can join here.

If you have questions, issues or feedback please get in touch with

New Racing Home podcast episode released

Our latest Racing Home podcast episode, featuring our first guest for Season Two Amy Bannister-Bell – a breeder, backer, producer of horses, instructor, coach and mother to a sibling group of three adopted children with her partner Alice. Thank you Amy and to our host Naomi Mellor for kicking off this series.

Find the episode wherever you get your podcasts or listen here

Find out more about Racing Home here.

We need you! WiR Committee Members

wir 10 years

Following the end of term for some of our fantastic voluntary committee members, Women in Racing (WiR) is seeking to recruit new people to join our team:

  • Do you want to support a network of brilliant women working across British horseracing?
  • Do you want to play your part in helping others to succeed, through mentoring programmes, bursaries and the Racing Home programme for example?

Our committee aims to:

  • Bring together a network that represents the broadest areas of the sport, with a commitment to diversity and inclusion
  • Combine a range of skillsets to support and grow Women in Racing as the network recovers post-Covid19 and looks ahead to benefitting its members and the sport in future
  • Support, where possible, the career development of our committee members through the varied opportunities presented by our activity.

We need members who are proactive, willing and able to juggle WiR commitments voluntarily alongside their current roles and responsibilities, and excellent team players. Specifically, we need help to look after our mentoring and bursary programmes, support and develop our membership and help us to deliver fun and engaging events for our members.

To apply, simply email

All applications will be responded to and considered carefully by the committee to determine the skillsets most needed by the organisation. Each term lasts three years – up to two terms maximum.

Additional funding announced for Phase Two of ‘Racing Home’

Racing Home video launched

Women in Racing, with support from the Racing Foundation and Kindred Group (Unibet), is delighted to announce the receipt of further grants to continue the important work of Racing Home, a project whose chief aim is to improve the working lives of parents and carers in the horseracing industry.

The Racing Foundation has generously awarded an additional £64,240 for Phase Two of the Racing Home project, while Kindred Group has generously contributed an extra £20,000, extending their funding commitment until Spring 2024. These funds will be put to good use in bolstering support, education, and empowerment initiatives for all employers, employees, and self-employed workers within the racing industry.

The first phase of Racing Home facilitated, amongst other project streams, the development of the Racing Home Portal. The portal provides a clear, easy-to-navigate central online platform offering the horseracing community information, advice and support about rights and entitlements regarding pregnancy, maternity, paternity, adoption, shared parental leave, flexible working, self-employment and statutory pay. There has previously been no obvious signposting for working parents in the racing and breeding industries and Racing Home aims to provide as much information as possible in a digestible fashion. All resources currently available can be found at

Priorities for Phase Two of the Racing Home project include:

  • Further development of the online portal, with expansion and enhancement of the information available to users with more best practice footage and advice. Once again, input will be sought from stud and stable staff, the training community and the corporate side of the industry to ensure the information is relevant in order to enhance the user experience.
  • A further data study, using information from the work completed in Phase One will be undertaken by Dr Kate Clayton-Hathway of Oxford Brookes University. This will enrich our understanding of how existing structures are supporting women and families and will feed into the newly formed Industry People Board.
  • Education modules, developed in Phase One will soon be available to the entire Thoroughbred racing and breeding community to inform a younger generation. The modules will encourage open and informed communication on a range of women and family related topics.
  • The Post-Pregnancy Rehabilitation and Support Programme, in collaboration with Racing Welfare and the Injured Jockeys Fund, is a unique and innovative pilot programme of physiotherapy and rehabilitation. The Programme is aimed at returning mothers to riding and other physical work in racing post-pregnancy. This programme has been a strong success so far, offering mothers six sessions of physiotherapy, a tailored fitness plan, strength and conditioning support and gym work funded by Racing Welfare’s Workforce Wellbeing Programme. Phase Two of the project will broaden the programme enabling mothers from outside the racing hubs of Newmarket, Malton and Lambourn to now be included. Learn more.
  • Promotion of good practices will feature videos and further episodes of the Racing Home podcast series hosted by Naomi Mellor, which discusses pertinent issues around family and parenthood with trainers, jockeys, researchers, experts, and a host of the sport’s decision-makers. The latest episode released today is with Amy Bannister-Bell discussing breeding horses whilst raising three adopted children. Other guests so far, include Alice Plunkett of ITV and Leo Powell of the Irish Field, each candid about their experiences, helping to elucidate how a positive future for all families in horseracing can be shaped. All previous episodes can be found on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.


Lucy Gurney, Women in Racing Chair said:

“We are so proud to continue developing the Racing Home programme, it is unique in racing but also more widely in sport to have tailored support and guidance available for working parents and we feel it is leading a cultural change that will benefit both racing’s people and the sport long-term. We are grateful to the Racing Foundation, Kindred and the Unibet brand, the Women in Racing committee and of course the Simply Racing team who deliver the programme in partnership with WiR. We know from the feedback we receive how important this work is, and how much more potential it has to support people throughout parenthood.”

Tansy Challis, Chief Executive of the Racing Foundation said:

“Supporting and retaining working parents and carers is a vital component in ensuring a sustainable workforce for British racing. The Racing Foundation is proud to fund Phase Two of the Racing Home project and looks forward to seeing the impact it makes while building on the success of the initial phase.”

Ed Nicholson of Unibet Racing / Kindred Group said:

“We are delighted to continue our support of Women in Racing to a third year, with a further grant into 2024.  At Kindred we know that Women in Racing has been instrumental in raising the awareness of diversity within the racing industry. The Racing Home portal specifically has enabled the sharing of experiences and brought about much needed discussions to ensure there is a comprehensive understanding of the decisions working parents face daily within racing.”

Nicholson went on to say: “Our funding of the project is yet another example of Kindred’s approach to a new, better form of sponsorship which helps communities. The real benefit of sponsorship to us is the link it creates between our business, the sport we sponsor – in this instance racing – and its community. We are proud and honoured to be associated with Women in Racing, and Racing Home”.

Further information can be found at

A day in the life… with Stallion Handler Maddy Dunbar

Maddy Dunbar is a Stallion Handler for Godolphin, currently based at Dalham Hall Stud in Newmarket. Find out about Maddy’s role and career journey so far – from New South Wales, Australia to the UK.

Tell us about you

I first started in the racing industry when I was 16, riding out in the mornings for trainers at my local track in Inverell, NSW, before heading to school for the day.

In 2017 I completed a TAFE racing course that led me to a week’s work placement at Godolphin’s Kelvinside Stud which is located in the Hunter Valley.

A TAFE (technical and further education) course is a mostly free extracurricular course for anyone seeking extra skills or certifications. You can get certified for almost anything  and they can give you some great contacts out in the big wide world, I think they are awesome!  My course really kick started my career for me – I never even heard of Godolphin before then!

That week really kicked off a new passion for the racing industry and after I graduated from High School in 2019 I moved  to my new home in Scone, NSW to work for Godolphin riding the breakers.

After my first season, I was offered a position at the stallion yard to see if it was something I wanted to get into. I thought why not!

I have now done three stallion seasons with Darley Australia, alternating between the yearling breaking and the stallion season. January to May, I break in the babies and from September to December, I work with the stallions during the breeding season. This year I was lucky enough to travel with the stallions to the UK for the northern hemisphere breeding season and will return home with them at the end of July, ready for the new southern hemisphere breeding season.

Day-to-day life

I start at the yard at 7am, where we all see what horses are covering that morning and turn out the ones that do not have a cover. We muck out all the boxes before the covers start at 8am.
After covers are done, we hand walk the stallions around the farm for an hour. We then have a 30 min break before bringing the stallions that were turned out for the morning in and bath them if necessary (most love to be covered in mud by this time). We have about 1.5hrs before 1pm covers so get onto any jobs that need doing, such as polishing doors, cleaning around the yard and cleaning tack. Some days we will also have parades for clients during this time.
Lunchtime covers normally go anywhere from 1-2pm most days. Half of the team will go for lunch before 1pm and the other half will go after covers.
After lunch I walk Harry Angel around the farm for an hour (he goes on his own because he doesn’t like being walked with the other stallions), then give him a good groom when we finish.
The stallions are fed at 4pm and we finish at 4:30pm. We come back at 7pm for covers most nights and we alternate nights for midnight covers.

Travelling the world
It was such an amazing experience to shuttle with the stallions, to really see behind the scenes with how they travel and what goes on. The past three years I was lucky enough to be able to put the stallions on the plane in Australia and see the process, but when I flew from Australia to the UK in December 2022, that was my first time flying with them.
Godolphin has provided me with amazing experiences that I wouldn’t get anywhere else and I am so thankful for that. Hopefully in the future I will get more opportunities to shuttle with the stallions – I would love to go to America for their breeding season one day.
It took me a few days to adjust to the different time zones, especially the different seasons as it was summer when I left Australia, and snowing when I arrived in the UK!
The stallions quarantine for two weeks on the farm in Australia before they fly, then move straight onto the stallion yard in the UK. When they fly back to Australia, they will quarantine for two weeks at our facility in the UK and when they land they will do another two weeks in quarantine in Melbourne. I will be one of the grooms looking after them through those quarantine periods.

Do you have favourites?

My favourite stallion is Too Darn Hot. He’s certainly got a big character, but I do love him.
A stallion I would like to work with in the future would be Anamoe. Anamoe was broken in when I first started working for Godolphin in 2020. I was fortunate enough to be around his upbringing and have a ride on him as a yearling. Being able to work with him in the breeding shed after what he has accomplished would be very exciting.
Each of the stallions have a different personality and that is what I love about this job. No two stallions are the same and they make you think outside the box and learn a variety of skills.
Most of the stallions try to bite and some will kick, but at the end of the day they are a well-behaved bunch to look after!

If you could send your mare to any sire that have their first runners this year, who would it be?
I would have to say Too Darn Hot, not only because he is my favourite stallion, but I have seen many of his foals, all with his good looks. His yearlings have sold very well at sales and he is always popular throughout the Northern and Southern hemisphere breeding seasons.

Finally, some advice from Maddy…

If you’re considering a role like mine, my advice would be to just go for it!

It may be uncommon to have women working with stallions but it is definitely not impossible and is something that should be talked about more. People come up to me after a stallion parade to congratulate me and tell me they didn’t know that it was even an option for women to get a job working with stallions. This perception is slowly changing and I hope to be a part of that change in the future. I am the first female Stallion Handler to work for Godolphin at Dalham Hall Stud, and hopefully not the last.
Change may not happen overnight, and most women work twice as hard to prove themselves in my experience, but it is possible.

Thank you Maddy!

Trailblazing female trainer honoured in Newmarket on International Women’s Day

A forgotten racehorse trainer who was the first woman in the UK to be issued with a training licence in 1886 is to have a race at The QIPCO Guineas Festival renamed in her honour, The Jockey Club announces today – International Women’s Day.

Ellen Chaloner has laid in an unmarked grave in Newmarket Cemetery since her death in 1944, with much of her extraordinary life story unrecorded and forgotten with the passage of time.

But now, thanks to a campaign launched by her descendants and supported by The Jockey Club, the ‘First Lady of the Turf’ will have her name deservedly etched into the history books.

At an event hosted at The Jockey Club Rooms in Newmarket on March 6th to commemorate Ellen ahead of International Women’s Day, it was announced that the trailblazing trainer’s contribution to the sport would be marked with the permanent renaming of a race on 2000 Guineas Day, Saturday 6th May.

The campaign has also enabled the purchase of two new headstones to mark where Ellen and other members of the Chaloner family are buried in Newmarket Cemetery, and will make a contribution to Women In Racing’s Bursary Fund to support the professional development of women working in racing today.

Ellen’s family travelled from all corners of the United Kingdom and Ireland to attend the occasion, where a special episode of Stephen Wallis’ podcast, The Paddock and the Pavillion, was recorded in front of a live audience.

Among those in attendance was retired Irish Champion Jump Jockey Charlie Swan, Ellen’s great-great grandson, who said: “When I started riding my mum kept telling me that my great-great grandmother and father used to ride and train horses, but it sort of went over my head a little bit when I was that age. I didn’t really think about it.

“It’s only in the last few years that I suddenly realised where my riding talents probably came from.”

Swan added: “It’s fantastic that Ellen is getting some recognition and hopefully we’ll make it there on the day.”

During the event to honour Ellen’s place in the history of British Racing, a portrait was unveiled which will be on display at Newmarket’s Rowley Mile racecourse.

Osborne House, where Ellen trained, is now home to longstanding trainer Sir Mark Prescott who attended the event and commented: “She was a remarkable woman and she lived in some style. Osborne House, which is there and named after the family, has 10 bedrooms and the cellars are massive.”

He added: “I’m very proud of her. I always tell everybody when they look round at the stables.”

Susie Wilks, Ellen’s great granddaughter was also interviewed during the podcast and said: “She was a very formidable lady but very deaf in her later years – my mother used to say it was always quite embarrassing having conversations with her because most of the racecourse could hear!

“I believe when she was in her later years and in a wheelchair, the racecourse built a plinth for her so she could watch the racing from there.

“We are all very grateful to The Jockey Club and everyone who has made all this possible. It is very humbling and an honour to have a race named after her, especially on 2000 Guineas Day.”

Gay Kelleway, the Newmarket trainer who was the first female jockey to ever win a race at Royal Ascot in 1987, said: “It is fantastic and it’s not just an ordinary race, It’s on Guineas Day and it’s a race for fillies, so it is very appropriate.

“To name a race after her is a great privilege and we mustn’t lose our heritage in horse racing, particularly in Newmarket.”


Background on Ellen Chaloner:

Ellen Chaloner (nee Osborne), who died aged 98, made history by being the first woman to be granted a training permit following the death of her Derby-winning jockey and trainer husband Tom in 1886, some 80 years before the High Court gave female racehorse trainers legal recognition.

Ellen applied for permission to train the family’s string of horses herself, at which time she also had seven young children to look after. When the request was granted by The Jockey Club, then the regulator and governing body for racing, it marked a significant point in the history of the sport.

The pioneering trainer went on to have a number of successes, including at Royal Ascot when her filly Jersey Lily won the Triennial Stakes in 1887.

Though there are gaps in Ellen’s history, her family, along with historians Dr Esther Harper and Tim Cox, have pieced together much of what her life looked like. Daughter of racehorse trainer Johnny Osborne Sr, Ellen’s brother Johnny Jnr was a 12-time Classic-winning jockey who had won the Derby in 1869.

She passed away in 1944 having outlived all seven of her children.

The Ellen Chaloner Stakes:

Previously The Kilvington Stakes held at Nottingham, the race over six furlongs race for fillies aged three years and older was transferred to Newmarket in 2022. Its “handle” has now been permanently changed to The Ellen Chaloner Stakes with the permission of British Horseracing Authority’s Flat Pattern Committee and will remain in perpetuity.

Members of the Chaloner family will be present at The Rowley Mile on QIPCO 2000 Guineas Day, Saturday 6th May 2023, for the inaugural running of The Ellen Chaloner Stakes.


The headstones are currently being constructed and will be unveiled later this year in a private event attended by the Chaloner family.

The Grand Women’s Summit returns in 2023

The Grand Women’s Summit returns once again to Aintree Racecourse in 2023, taking place on Ladies Day (Friday 14th April) at the Randox Grand National Festival.

First staged in 2015 and in now in its eighth year, the Grand Women’s Summit returned as an in-person event in 2022 having been held virtually in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The theme for this year’s event, which for a second time is generously supported by leading multinational law firm Pinsent Masons, will be menstrual health in sport, parenthood and the menopause.

Former England field hockey player Sam Quek MBE, who was part of the Gold medal-winning team at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and is a current team captain on the BBC’s Question of Sport, will be the host.

The panel in 2023 will include World Champion boxer and Aintree Ambassador Natasha Jonas. Liverpool-born Jonas currently holds three championship belts – the IBF, WBC and WBO female light-middleweight titles.

Jonas said: “It was a terrific experience to be on the panel for the Grand Women’s Summit in 2022 and I am delighted to be returning this year.

“This year’s theme is something that is rarely talked about publicly but obviously of massive importance to women. I am sure the Grand Women’s Summit in 2023 will go some way to helping women involved in all sports and help to break down barriers.”

Also on the panel will be ITV Racing presenter Alice Plunkett and Liverpool-born mixed martial artist “Meatball” Mollie McCann.

Samantha Livesey, Partner, Head of Commercial at Pinsent Masons, which is supporting the event, said: “The Grand Women’s Summit has established itself as an important annual event, highlighting and providing insight into key issues across sport.

“Its values, focusing on women within sport, are very much in line with our own, particularly in promoting gender equality, diversity and inclusion. As a global business with a market leading sports sector advisory team, the international focus on this event and the opportunity it creates to give a voice to women within sport is something we are delighted to support.”

The Grand Women’s Summit will also see the second presentation of the Rose Paterson Community Sportswoman Award.

Launched by Aintree Racecourse in partnership with BBC Radio Merseyside at the 2021 Randox Grand National Festival, the accolade is in memory of Aintree’s late Chair Rose Paterson, who sadly passed away in 2020.

It combines two of Rose’s passions, the community and the Grand Women’s Summit, and its aim is to recognise on an annual basis a girl or woman from Merseyside who is making a difference to grassroots community sport, either through participation or support.

The Pinsent Masons Grand Women’s Summit will take place in O’ Sullevan’s Owners and Trainers facility, and will finish with a course walk of the world-famous Randox Grand National course.

Open to the public, tickets for the Pinsent Masons Grand Women’s Summit can be purchased by visiting WiR members – please check your emails for your discount code, or email for the code.

Racing Home needs you!

Racing Home video launched

Complete the work-life balance and caring survey…

This survey will identify priorities for the industry and should take 10 minutes maximum to complete. Please complete this survey regardless of your parental or caring responsibilities – all information is important to shape the future of Racing Home.

Horseracing is a diverse sport attracting individuals from different backgrounds, skillsets and talents. It is important for us to collect information on the needs of the workforce to understand how they can best be supported.
In particular, we are interested in what can be done to help with work-life balance and family life, not least as many roles in the industry involve long hours, travel and/or hard physical work.

Findings will be presented anonymously and published in a report that will be made available via