The RCA is joining the British horseracing celebration of International Women's Day in honour of the achievements by women across the sport.
Our current Executive Team includes six women, representing half of the workforce. Izzie Marshall, RCA Racing Executive, is one of them and combines supporting racecourse teams with race planning queries, data support and being an active member of the RCA's Diversity & Inclusion work with a second career as a successful amateur jockey, both on the point to point circuit and under rules. It is a dual role which leaves her uniquely positioned within the RCA team to offer valuable insight from both a racecourse and thoroughbred professional perspective.
Izzie grew up in East Sussex and is from a racing-focussed family. Her father, mother and older brother were all successful as point-to-point riders and it was this that gave her the bug to follow in their footsteps. "I loved doing anything fast and furious that involved horses, from pony club to eventing to team chasing. I always had aspirations to be a jockey."
These aspirations quickly became a reality with Izzie progressing through the ranks and becoming prolific on the point-to-point circuit. Along the way, she obtained a Category B amateur licence, meaning her skills could be tested against professional riders in races under rules. Attached to Alan and Lawney Hill's yard, Izzie is kept busy. "I'm very lucky to be stable jockey for the powerful Hill yard. We have around 40 horses to care for and I ride two lots in a morning before starting RCA work. Every Saturday and Sunday we are pointing and I usually have 2 or 3 rides at each meeting."
Whilst rising through the ranks as a jockey, Izzie remained clear that her education would not fall away and graduated from the University of Reading with a First Class Honours degree in Business Management. "I knew I wanted to be a jockey but I also knew that my degree could open doors in the administration side of the racing industry, albeit I wasn't sure which part. I was always curious to learn more about racecourses as it was a part of the industry I knew little about."
This curiosity led to the BHA's Development Programme, a longstanding initiative endorsed by the sport to welcome candidates from a variety of higher education routes. As part of the lockdown-hit class of 2021, Izzie joined the RCA on an initial eight week placement which was soon extended to a full-time role. Flexibility on both sides was key to nurture her talent both in and out of the saddle.
"I was pleased to have joined the RCA as the organisation is at the heart of British racecourses. I was fortunate that my team, Andy Clifton and Kevin Walsh, understood I was going to combine this with responsibilities at the yard and we've worked out a schedule that works for all parties.
"The work is so varied and I am keen to keep learning. For example, I've been able to prepare and share quarterly data packs which include critical information for independent racecourses for their race planning, and then join the RCA's diversity and inclusion group to develop initiatives which will ensure racecourses are welcoming venues."
Office life is clearly very busy, and life in the saddle is equally as fulfilling. 2021/22 was Izzie's most prolific with 26 winners to her name. To date, Izzie has ridden:
- 316 races with 255 being point to point.
- 74 point-to-point winners (27% strike rate)
- 175 point-to-point places (66% strike rate)
- Five winners under rules
- 17 placed efforts under rules
The fact that many of these have come against full-time professionals speaks to the skill and determination of a jockey very much at the top of her game. "It is a real thrill to ride in any race, but particularly when you are up against the best of the best. I've been fortunate to ride winners under rules at Lingfield Park, Warwick, Cartmel, Fakenham and Taunton and can also say I've ridden at both the Cheltenham and Aintree Grand National Festivals. They are experiences I will never forget.
"My agent, Gordy Clarkson, is brilliant and has secured me some amazing rides for trainers including Charlie Longsdon, Brian Ellison, DJ Jeffreys and Rebecca Curtis. It has been another strong season and I'm excited to see what comes next."
All at the RCA echo Izzie's sentiment and with the Cheltenham Festival looming on the horizon we would be delighted if Izzie could become the first member of our Executive Team to be a Festival winner!