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Lavelle: racing now better equipped to deal with harassment

Emma Lavelle: "It's a tough job and people have a laugh but there is a line"
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Emma Lavelle on Sunday expressed her sympathy for Flat counterpart Gay Kelleway but believes that racing is now better equipped to deal with allegations of sexual assault and harassment.

In Saturday's Daily Mirror Kelleway spoke about her career as a jockey, which ended in 1992, and how she was subject to improper advances from her male weighing-room colleagues, with one senior jockey allegedly pinning her against a wall and saying "you know you want it", in the presence of racing officials.

The harassment is said to have continued when Kelleway started training, as she claimed she received unsolicited hotel room visits from two trainers.

Jumps trainer Lavelle said her experiences in the industry have never gone beyond good-natured banter and that people had not overstepped the mark.

"Racing has been absolutely fantastic to me," Lavelle said. "People have been incredibly helpful and incredibly kind. There would be banter, but there would always be that line.

"I feel terribly for Gay if it's something she has experienced. Hopefully today racing is better set up for that kind of thing with call lines and Racing Welfare. I think people are in a much better position if they have experienced what she's experienced as there are more people to talk to."

Julia Feilden, who rode as an amateur before becoming a trainer, also pointed to what she believes was a very different culture when she was starting out.

She said: "I've been in racing all my life and in those days as a young apprentice, male or female, you got abused. It was just part of the initiation. It would never happen in this day and age, but it did in those days. Back then that sort of thing happened.

"If that sort of thing happened now you'd hear about it. Nothing goes on like it did in those days. The BHA has got to address it but I don't think these things happen these days."

Lavelle has been training for nearly 20 years and believes society's attitude to what constitutes appropriate behaviour has changed, and that racing, like most industries, has reacted accordingly.

"I think society's approach has changed - what used to be acceptable is no longer acceptable," she added. "I can only speak from what I see. I don't hear of anything going on. I don't think I live with my head in the clouds but I don't see or hear any issues in our area that would worry me.

"It's a tough job and people have a laugh but there is a line. No-one should ever go through life feeling threatened, it's just unacceptable. The channels should be open for people to speak out."

No-one should ever go through life feeling threatened, it's just unacceptable. The channels should be open for people to speak out

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