GBI RACING

Frost and Blackmore raising the bar again for female riders

Rachael Blackmore has already tasted Festival success this week

Rachael Blackmore and Bryony Frost both have leading chances to break new ground as the Cheltenham Festival’s first Grade One-winning female jockey when their respective mounts Monalee and Frodon vie for the Ryanair Chase on Thursday. Here, Press Association Sport highlights the achievements of 10 women who have helped to blaze the trail in and out of the saddle in the 52 years since Norah Wilmot became the first to train a winner under rules in Britain.

Lizzie Kelly

Lizzie Kelly claimed Grade One glory on Tea For Two
Lizzie Kelly claimed Grade One glory on Tea For Two (Simon Cooper/PA)

Kelly’s 2015 victory in Kempton’s Kauto Star Novices’ Chase on Tea For Two was the first at Grade One level for a British female jockey. Riding principally for her stepfather Nick Williams, Kelly went on to win the Grade One Betway Bowl at Aintree on the same horse. Further big-race successes have come in Newbury’s Betfair Hurdle and on Coo Star Sivola at the Cheltenham Festival two years ago.

Hayley Turner

Hayley Turner has enjoyed a hugely successful career so far
Hayley Turner has enjoyed a hugely successful career so far (Nigel French/PA)

In 2008 Turner rode 100 winners on the Flat, the first woman to do so. Three years later, she won the Group One July Cup at Newmarket on Dream Ahead. She retired in 2015 but has been back in the saddle since last year and is approaching 800 career winners.

Jenny Pitman

Grand National-winner trainer Jenny Pitman
Grand National-winner trainer Jenny Pitman (Barry Batchelor/PA)

The first female trainer of a Grand National winner when Corbiere beat Greasepaint in 1983. The former wife of jockey Richard Pitman, himself denied only by the great Red Rum on the pace-setting Crisp in the 1973 National, she won the Aintree spectacular again with Royal Athlete in 1995 – to add to two Cheltenham Gold Cups, with Burrough Hill Lad in 1984 and Garrison Savannah in 1991.

Mercy Rimell

Mercy Rimell pictured with jockey Andrew Thornton
Mercy Rimell pictured with jockey Andrew Thornton (Andrew Parsons/PA)

Trainer of 1983 Champion Hurdle winner Gaye Brief, another notable benchmark for women in racing. Gaye Brief’s win came two years after she took over from her late husband Fred, multiple champion jockey and trainer who had won the Grand National four times. Mercy Rimell retired in 1989 but remained involved as an owner until her death at the age of 98 in 2017.

Nina Carberry/Katie Walsh

The careers of Nina Carberry and Katie Walsh ran virtually in tandem
The careers of Nina Carberry and Katie Walsh ran virtually in tandem (PA)

Contemporaries and both part of Irish racing dynasties, Carberry and Walsh raised the bar for women’s achievements in the saddle. Carberry was a five-time Cheltenham Festival winner, and when she did so on Dabiroun in 2005, it had been 18 years since the previous Festival success for a female jockey. Walsh, sister of multiple champion Ruby, also won twice at the 2010 Festival – and finished third on Seabass in the 2012 Grand National. She and sister-in-law Carberry had continued success in Britain and Ireland until they retired within 24 hours of one another at the 2018 Punchestown Festival.

Monica Dickinson

Monica Dickinson enjoyed a successful training careerr
Monica Dickinson enjoyed a successful training career (PA)