Jockey Megan Nicholls hopes to play a starring role in the saddle at the unique VL Aesthetics Ladies Night at Carlisle on Monday (August 2nd) - a card she believes is a “great event not just for girls but for racing”.
The daughter of 12 times champion jumps trainer Paul Nicholls returns to the track for the only fixture in Britain at which every jockey in every race is female.
Nicholls admits she was “gutted” that last year’s meeting was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic but is looking forward to being part of the event again on its return.
Having tasted success at the 2019 meeting aboard the Brian Ellison-trained Moonlit Sands, Nicholls is keen to add to that victory and receive another warm welcome to the winner’s enclosure from the Cumbrian faithful.
The 24 year old, who looks set to have a ride in all seven races on Monday, said: “We were all gutted that it couldn’t go ahead last year with COVID so it is great that they have managed to put it back on and hopefully it can be another fun evening. It is definitely a meeting I always look to be riding at.
“There is always a great atmosphere inside and outside the weighing room. It’s a fun night and one we look forward to. We all support each other when we have winners and just try to enjoy riding with each other.
“It is a great thing not just for the girls but for racing. It’s always a meeting that has had a huge amount of entries and declared runners so in that respect it is great too.
“We would love to have a few more meetings like this but we are lucky enough to get one of them. Carlisle always has a good atmosphere and if you are fortunate to ride a winner there you are always given a good welcome coming back in.
“However, the girls' meeting is especially good fun and the crowd always seem to get really involved.”
The meeting has grown in stature since its inception in 2014, and Nicholls believes its presence on the calendar is important to help female riders receive opportunities they might otherwise not get, as well as establishing new connections.
Nicholls said: “It is great having a meeting like this as it showcases the talents among the girls. I think the meeting has really developed over the years.
“It can open up new opportunities with girls riding for connections who they wouldn’t normally ride for, so in that respect it is obviously very important.
“The top girls like Hollie (Doyle) and Hayley (Turner) have ridden there over the years, and while it is great to have the top girls riding it is a meeting that also gives plenty of chances to apprentices and amateurs.
“Over the last few years riding at this meeting has helped me establish new links with people and hopefully I will have rides for a couple of different trainers.
“It is nice to spread your wings a bit and ride for different people.”
Things have been relatively quiet for Nicholls since steering Knappers Hill to Grade Two glory for her father in the Weatherbys nhstallions.co.uk Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race at the Randox Grand National Festival at Aintree in April.
However, having been one of the more in demand riders at the meeting in previous years, Nicholls hopes it will be a case of more of the same as she looks to give her season a timely boost.
The rider, who lives in Yorkshire with her partner and Group One winning jockey Kevin Stott, added: “That was great, winning the Grade Two at Aintree, and that is what we are here to do it for, but other than that the year has been very slow.
“I’ve had a bit of bad luck and not necessarily been on the right horses. I’ve moved up north and I’ve lost a few connections I had down south but that is in part down to the decision I made to relocate.
“Over the next couple of years I hope to combine doing more television work along with riding, so hopefully it will all work itself out.
“I’ve been fortunate enough that the last few times I’ve ridden in this meeting that I have been busy.
“At the moment I’m jocked up on seven horses so it looks like I will be pretty busy again and fingers crossed they all get declared as it is a meeting I aim to try and get as many rides as possible at every year.”
Tickets are still available for Monday night’s unique VL Aesthetics Ladies Night at Carlisle via thejockeyclub.co.uk/Carlisle.