British Jockey Speaks Out About Sexual Assault, Harassment In Male-Dominated Industry

Gay Kelleway, trainer and former top female jockey in Britain, is speaking out this week about sexual assault and harassment which she said were constants during her career.

Kelleway recalled one incident in which an unnamed male jockey, who she said is known to millions of fans, pushed her against a wall in a changing room within yards of racing officials. The jockey allegedly pinned her and said, “You know you want it.” Kelleway was able to escape. Kelleway recounted other uninvited advances and unwanted visits to her hotel rooms from jockeys and trainers alike. Some of the experiences, she believes, were reflections of anger from male riders who grew tired of losing to her.

“I got harassed so much, people have no idea what sort of a tough time I had. It was horrible,” she told the Daily Mirror. “I just wished they would leave me alone. All I wanted was to do my job to the best of my ability.”

Kelleway said the behavior did not stop when she transitioned to training, and while progress has been made in her three decades on the track, harassment still goes on and can have a huge impact on mental health and safety in the workplace. Women make up 70 percent of Britain’s stable staff.

The British Horseracing Authority released the following statement in the wake of Kelleway’s statements:

The following statement is published on behalf of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), Professional Jockeys Association (PJA), National Trainers Federation (NTF), National Association of Stable Staff (NASS), Racecourse Association (RCA) and Racing Welfare.

The racing world is very concerned by the allegations that one of our leading female participants was sexually assaulted and harassed during her career as a jockey. There is no place for such behaviour in our sport. Respect for each other, for our colleagues, and our officials is core to our values. We have policies in place across the sport to address concerns about bullying, harassment and inappropriate behaviour, but we are always working to improve the welfare of our participants. We want a culture where all our people are confident to report concerns.

Anyone who feels they have been affected by unacceptable behaviour may contact the 24/7 confidential helpline run by Racing Welfare, the sport’s own charitable body, which offers support and advice. Trained counsellors are on hand to answer calls. Racing Welfare will liaise with the sport’s governing body, the British Horseracing Authority, and other authorities as appropriate. 
 
Racing’s Support Line can either be contacted online through www.racingwelfare.co. uk or via 0800 6300 443.
 
The bodies that represent professional jockeys, trainers, stable-staff and racecourses, support Racing Welfare’s primary role for those who wish to get in touch in confidence, but will also support their members and staff if they ask for assistance in raising a concern. The BHA, as the governing body, is coordinating this response and will work with all partners in the sport and other relevant authorities to address any issues that arise from this case.
 
The BHA has spoken to the trainer concerned to offer support and assistance.

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