GALWAY rider Sophie Ralston rode a winner at the Women Jockey’s World Cup in Bro Park, Stockholm, on Sunday.
Ralston, who is based in Epsom, generated plenty of media attention last January, when she had a letter published in the Racing Post calling on trainers to “take a chance” on her. The initiative paid off as she has had six winners in Britain so far this season from just 60 rides. She had only ridden 14 winners in the previous six years combined.
Representing Ireland in Sweden on Sunday, Ralston (27) rode Mindbender to win the third leg of the series. She finished the competition in fourth place behind Nanako Fujita, Japan’s only female professional jockey.
The 22-year-old Japanese rider, who arrived in Sweden with 62 winners to her credit, won the points-based competition which was staged over five legs. Reigning champion Sweden’s Josefin Landgren was second and Britain’s Jane Elliott, standing in for Hayley Turner, finished third. Georgia Cox (GB) was fifth.
After receiving her trophy from Svensk Galopp’s Dennis Madsen, Fujita, who won two races and finished second in a third said, “It’s unbelievable I am really happy. It is the first time I have ridden a winner outside of Japan. Travelling to Sweden and riding Swedish horses has been very good experience for me and I hope I can inspire other female riders. I am thankful to my trainer in Japan and my parents and to Svesnk Galopp for inviting me to Sweden.”
Elliott, born in South Africa, also won a leg of the series.
Dennis Madsen, Svensk Gallop’s director of racing, said: “We are delighted for Nanako who helped us make the Women Jockeys’ World Cup a truly international competition. The Women Jockeys’ World Cup and, in particular Japan’s participation, has generated a huge amount of interest in Swedish racing.”