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Black female jockey Ashleigh Wicheard takes the knee in Goodwood paddock

Black female jockey Ashleigh Wicheard kneels in Goodwood paddock before charity race, tells how she wants to ‘promote diversity’ and become a ‘role model’ for black women

  • Wichard stormed to victory in the women-only horse racing event at Goodwood
  • She took the knee for her race and her fellow riders joined her in solidarity
  • Wicheard said the move was to mark her as a role model and encourage more black women to get into the sport
  • The 36-year-old jockey has been involved in the sport for over 15 years

Charity race jockey Ashleigh Wicheard knelt in the Goodwood paddock on Thursday to promote diversity and raise the profile of black women in the sport, just before taking a resounding victory in the Markel Magnolia Cup.

The 36-year-old, who has been involved in the sport for 15 years, crossed the line in Scott Dixen’s Dark Shot to win the race sponsored by Markel, which aims to raise money for women’s charities.

An excited Wicheard said after the race: This is a sport I’ve invested in and I’ve worked hard to promote diversity within the sport, basically by just being a face in the paddock.

“If I can be a role model for black women and get more of them into sports, I’ll be over the moon.”

The women-only horse racing event has so far raised more than £1.8 million for charity since it began in 2011, according to air sportsand sees 12 riders of varying degrees of experience, matched with a horse and trainer, and go through a rigorous training program prior to the race.

Jockey Ashleigh Wicheard kneels as jockeys are introduced for the Markel Magnolia Cup

Jockey Ashleigh Wicheard kneels as jockeys are introduced for the Markel Magnolia Cup

Ashleigh Wicheard rides Dark Shot and wins the Markel Magnolia Cup during day three of the Qatar Goodwood Festival at Goodwood Racecourse on July 28, 2022 in Chichester, England

Ashleigh Wicheard rides Dark Shot and wins the Markel Magnolia Cup during day three of the Qatar Goodwood Festival at Goodwood Racecourse on July 28, 2022 in Chichester, England

Ashleigh Wicheard celebrates after winning the Markel Magnolia Cup on day three of the Qatar Goodwood Festival 2022

Ashleigh Wicheard celebrates after winning the Markel Magnolia Cup on day three of the Qatar Goodwood Festival 2022

Joan Armatrading presents the Markel Magnolia Cup to winner Ashleigh Wicheard on Ladies Day at the 2022 Qatar Goodwood Festival at Goodwood Racecourse in West Sussex

Joan Armatrading presents the Markel Magnolia Cup to winner Ashleigh Wicheard on Ladies Day at the 2022 Qatar Goodwood Festival at Goodwood Racecourse in West Sussex

While the race aims to raise money for women-oriented charities, it has also become an event to promote diversity across the board.

In 2019, Khadijah Mellah became the first jockey to wear a hijab at the UK event.

Wicheard, meanwhile, told Sky Sports that her decision to take the knee was made well in advance and that she was pleased to find that the rest of her fellow competitors wanted to follow suit and knelt in solidarity.

“I didn’t want to pressure any of the girls… It wouldn’t have been a problem because it’s their choice, but they were so supportive.

“I know these kinds of statements can be answered with both negativity and positivity – I just hope it’s a positive message portrayed from this.”

The jockey said her race win was “incredible” but added that she put in a lot of work and gave up free time and vacation to get a good result.

Jockey Ashleigh Wicheard blows a kiss to the camera after her winning ride on Dark Shot in the Market Magnolia Cup on day three of the Qatar Goodwood Festival 2022 at Goodwood Racecourse, Chichester

Jockey Ashleigh Wicheard blows a kiss to the camera after her winning ride on Dark Shot in the Market Magnolia Cup on day three of the Qatar Goodwood Festival 2022 at Goodwood Racecourse, Chichester

Jockey Ashleigh Wichard is congratulated after her winning ride on Thursday

Jockey Ashleigh Wichard is congratulated after her winning ride on Thursday

Dark Shot, ridden by jockey Ashleigh Wicheard en route to winning the Markel Magnolia Cup on day three of the Qatar Goodwood Festival 2022

Dark Shot, ridden by jockey Ashleigh Wicheard en route to winning the Markel Magnolia Cup on day three of the Qatar Goodwood Festival 2022

The knee-jerk in British sport began in the summer of 2020 in the wake of George Floyd’s murder as an anti-racism gesture.

The movement was quickly adopted in various sports, but over time became associated with various causes and is now observed with varying degrees of enthusiasm.

For her part, Wicheard said the gesture was meant to mark her as a role model and to encourage more black women to get into racing while raising awareness of current inequalities in the sport.

“It’s not going to happen overnight and I’m fully aware of that, but I’d like to think that by taking the knee I’ll raise awareness and improve things as a result,” she said.

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