The female jockey revolution

Reporter: Denham Hitchcock | Producer: Sandra Cleary

Horse racing is on the verge of its greatest reinvention ever, with women outnumbering men in training for the most dangerous land-based job around. And winning.

In this $22 billion industry they have few advantages on male competitors but have battled hard to break into the sport of kings.

Katelyn Mallyon is one of the toughest and most ambitious female jockeys in the country, just 20 years old and weighing in at around 50kg, she had her heart set on being the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup.

Motor Neurone Disease: Sharn's last wish
Trishna and Krishna's new miracle

But the risks she faces are serious – about 90 percent of all Jockeys suffering a race fall at least once in their careers and Katelyn has already been badly hurt on the track.

In May 2012 on the Flemington home her horse, ‘Deliver The Dream’ clipped the heels of the horse in front and went down.

Katelyn was lucky to survive.

Katelyn Mallyon

"I had a compressed fracture of my T6 vertebrae, a lacerated spleen, I fractured my cheek bone and I was placed into a coma for four days," Katelyn said.

"It is, it is a very dangerous job but none of us jockeys think of that at all. We go and do our job and really love doing it."

"I couldn’t ever give up being a jockey."

But for some jockeys, falls are life changing. When Louise Cooper came off her horse in 2012 Her back was broken, her spinal cord crushed.

"I remember it all, I didn’t get knocked out, I just remember my horse’s right shoulder was taken out from underneath her and it actually felt like she had speared me into the ground."

"She died instantly. When we both fell I heard her neck break and I heard my back break," She said.

Incredibly, Louise is still riding in dressage competitions despite being paralysed from the chest down.

Six-year-old Kodah's champion jockey mum Simone died in August last year, falling from her horse.

Having claimed 27 wins in one season and Darwin Jockey of the Year, Simone really knew her craft.

More lost diggers identified
Young love in the arctic

Simone's father Peter drives a truck for a living for 12 hours per day. Ten hours of those, he says, he spends thinking about Simone.

"Jockeys have accidents all the time and they get run over by other horses," Simone's father Peter said.

"So I thought she would be fine. I didn’t think it would end up like this."

Riding is a risky busy business but it’s in the blood… and increasingly it’s woman who are taking the reins and taking over.

The National Jockeys Trust provides support for former and current jockeys and their families, who have suffered as a result of serious injury, illness or death related to their occupation as a jockey.

To make a donation or for further information please visit

Since filming our story, sadly Louise’s horse, Cooper, has passed away. If you can help Louise to find a quiet, dressage-trained horse please contact The National Jockeys Trust on 02 9894 9629.