The first female jockey to win at Royal Ascot claims a famous rider held her against a wall and said ‘you know you want it’ in front of officials.
Gay Kelleway also says a naked jockey approached her in a sauna and alleged unsolicited late-night hotel visits from two trainers.
The 53-year-old fears talented female riders will be driven to suicide if unwanted advances are not pushed out of the sport.
Gay Kelleway, pictured at Ascot in 2010, says sexual harassment in horse racing risks driving young girls to suicide
‘What I went through would be enough to push someone, especially fragile girls, to suicide,’ she told the Mirror.
‘I got harassed so much, people have no idea what sort of a tough time I had. It was horrible.
‘I just wished they would leave me alone. All I wanted was to do my job to the best of my ability.’
She says her experiences were so terrifying she chose to travel in horse boxes to races rather than taking lifts and risking harassment.
Gay, pictured leading her horse from stables, says she was pinned against a wall in front of officials and told ‘you know you want it’
The daughter of top National Hunt jockey Paul Kelleway is still the only woman to ride a winner at Royal Ascot after Sprowston Boy landed the Queen Elizabeth Stakes in 1987.
She rode her first winning horse aged 17 but says her success resulted in sexist mocking from male riders.
‘They used to take the mickey a lot,’ she said. ‘Every time I beat a [male] jockey, especially a top one, the response was the same: “Ah, you got beaten by a girl.”
Gay, front and centre, says top jockeys have sexually harassed her and warns the problem could have tragic consequences for young women
‘It was unheard of, and they didn’t like it.’
She says teasing transformed into physical abuse, with a ‘senior jockey’ pinning her to the wall yards from Jockey Club officials, which handed control to the British Horseracing Authority in 1993.
The present day Jockey Club is not connected to the former group of the same name.
Gay says her ordeal was made worse by the fact that women did not have separate changing rooms.
Gay is the only female rider to win at Royal Ascot. She has spoken out about alleged harassment in her sport
‘I’ll never forget it, I was getting changed,’ she said.
‘I was in the changing room at Leicester and a senior jockey walked in and pinned me up against the wall. There were stewards around.
‘[He said] “Come on, Gay, come on, you know you want it.” I said, “No, I don’t”. I said, “I’ll scream.”
‘[He said] “No one will hear you.” I kneed him in the groin. He left then.’
She said another top jockey then approached her at his sauna.
‘I used to go and use a top jockey’s sauna,’ she said.
Gay says she was approached by a naked jockey at his sauna and shoved against a changing room wall in Leicester
‘My dad arranged it and I was quite friendly with his girlfriend. I drove over to the house and I was sat in there with my swimming costume on and he walked in, stark naked, trying to shock me. I promptly left.’
Gay said she lived in fear that nobody would believe her if she spoke out.
‘I used to get lifts in cars,’ she said Gay. ‘There’s a trainer now, a top trainer. He was an assistant at the time. I said to my dad, “I’d rather go with the horse in the horse box.” I knew I’d be safe.
‘I was young then. I was a kid. I never said anything because no one believed you. “You must have provoked them” – that’s what you got.’
And she said the harassment followed her into racing retirement, when she became a trainer in Newmarket in 1991.
‘I had started training and I was staying in a hotel at Doncaster,’ she said.
Gay says a top jockey approached her naked at a sauna while she was in her swimming costume
‘I had two trainers knocking on my door, and I had a very respected top trainer calling me.
‘I used to stay at hotels miles away because I got so much harassment.’
Her story follows the Harvey Weinstein sex-abuse allegations and claims of sexual impropriety at Westminster .
Women working long hours for low pay make up 70 per cent of Britain’s 6,000 stable staff but have struggled to make an impact in the top levels of a sport bringing in £3.5billion to the UK economy every year.
Females were only allowed to hold training licences after High Court action in 1966.
Gay says sexual bullying still happens despite the progress made during her career.
The British Horseracing Authority says it takes the allegations ‘extremely seriously’ after Gay alleged that a top jockey pinned her to a wall
‘I’ve known incidents with head lads harassing girls, grooms, in the yard,’ she said.
‘They’ve had to be sacked. I’ve had to ask a lad to leave for harassing a girl.’
She says women who are affected by harassment should report it to the British Horseracing Authority or police.
‘Any trainer that tries it on with a groom or a young girl, they should be reported,’ she said.
‘If they get approached by a trainer, ‘a ride for a ride’, tell them to sod off and go somewhere else.
‘I haven’t been paid to do this interview. I’m saying it because it’s true, it’s for the good of the sport that it’s out in the open.’
Martin Fewell from the British Horseracing Authority said: ‘BHA takes these allegations extremely seriously.
‘We are working with all partners in our sport to ensure people are treated with respect.
‘We are contacting the trainer concerned to seek further details.’