Winning the Grand National is the pinnacle of any jockey’s career. Even in retirement, when asked about their greatest victories, Ruby Walsh, Barry Geraghty, and AP McCoy all stated that winning the Grand National was their greatest achievement.
And it’s easy to see why. A notoriously difficult race to even complete, winning it instantly propels you into the history books.
But those history books are missing one vital record – a female winning jockey.
To date, despite the fact that race has been in action since the 1800s, no woman has ever ridden the winner. It may even surprise you to know that the first woman didn’t actually ride in the race until 1977.
That was Charlotte Brew on Barony Fort, a horse that refused to jump at the 27th fence. And even then it was The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 that made it possible for her to enter the race!
Since then there have been 17 female jockeys that have followed in her footsteps. Of those Nina Carberry and Katie Walsh (narrating the video above from Betway) are the most well-known know and both hold their own records in the race.
Both have ridden in the race a record six times with Walsh the best finisher. Seriously, who can forget her partnership with Seabass and his third-place finish in 2012?
She is also the only female jockey to have gone off as the race favourite. Both have now retired and the mantle has been passed to a new group of hopefuls.
Female Jockeys In The Grand National 2021
For 2021 three female jockeys will line up hoping to make history.
Booked on board Minella Times for trainer Henry De Bromhead and owner JP McManus, Blackmore is a bonafide history maker. This will be her third National and given her recent form, she could very well break the ultimate glass ceiling on Saturday.
Her six wins at the Cheltenham Festival in 2021, made her the first female jockey to win the Ruby Walsh Trophy for leading Cheltenham jockey.
She currently sits in second place in the Leading Jockey Championship in Ireland, just 10 wins behind Paul Townend.
Another history-maker, Bryony Frost became the first female jockey to win a Grade 1 chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
She partnered Frodon to victory in the Ryanair Chase in 2020 and the duo were back again to win the 2020 King George VI Chase. Another first for a female jockey.
She rode Milansbar to 5th place in the 2018 National but was injured for the renewal in 2019.
For 2021 Bryony Frost will be on board Yala Enki for trainer Paul Nicholls.
Making her Grand National debut in 2021 is jockey Tabitha Worsley. Champion Amateur Jockey in 2018/19, she also won the Aintree Foxhunters on Top Wood in 2019.
In what could be a fairytale ending, she is on board Sub Lieutenant for trainer Georgie Howell, who also happens to be her mother.
Female Jockey Finishing Places
While Walsh and Carberry may be considered the most successful jockeys among their peers, there are other notable women on the list. Jenny Hembrow was the first woman to ride in back-to-back Grand Nationals.
Venetia Williams not only rode in the 1988 Grand National but she also went on to train the winner in Mon Mome in 2009.
|2019||Rachael Blackmore (2)||Valseur Lido||10th|
|2019||Lizzie Kelly||Tea For Two||Pulled-Up|
|2018||Katie Walsh (6)||Baie Des Iles||12th|
|2018||Rachael Blackmore (1)||Alpha Des Obeaux||Fell|
|2017||Katie Walsh (5)||Wonderful Charm||19th|
|2016||Nina Carberry (6)||Sir Des Champs||Unseated|
|2016||Katie Walsh (4)||Ballycasey||Unseated|
|2015||Nina Carberry (5)||First Lieutenant||16th|
|2014||Katie Walsh (3)||Vesper Bell||13th|
|2013||Katie Walsh (2)||Seabass||13th|
|2012||Katie Walsh (1)||Seabass||3rd|
|2012||Nina Carberry (4)||Organisedconfusion||Unseated|
|2011||Nina Carberry (3)||Character Building||15th|
|2010||Nina Carberry (2)||Character Building||7th|
|2006||Nina Carberry (1)||Forest Gunner||9th|
|2005||Carrie Ford||Forest Gunner||5th|
|1994||Rosemary Henderson||Fiddlers Pike||5th|
|1987||Jacqui Oliver||Eamon’s Owen||Unseated|
|1984||Valerie Alder||Bush Guide||Fell|
|1983||Joy Carrier||King Spruce||Unseated|
|1983||Geraldine Rees (2)||Midday Welcome||Fell|
|1982||Geraldine Rees (1)||Cheers||8th|
|1982||Charlotte Brew (2)||Martinstown||Unseated|
|1980||Jenny Hembrow (2)||Sandwilan||Refused|
|1979||Jenny Hembrow (1)||Sandwilan||Fell|
|1977||Charlotte Brew (1)||Barony Fort||Refused|
With a whole new group of young female jockeys making their mark on the sport, it is only a matter of time before one of them crosses the finishing line first.
Rachael Blackmore, Lizzie Kelly and Bryony Frost are at the top of the sport and with the right runner, can give any other pairing a run for their money.
Female Winning Grand National Trainers
Given the thousands of horses that have run in the Grand National over the years, training a winner is as difficult as riding one.
Only three people have ever trained four winners. They are George Dockeray, Fred Rimell and Ginger McCain who trained the great Red Rum.
With regards to women who have trained Grand National winners, well there are only four of them!
- Jenny Pitman with Corbiere in 1983 and Royal Athlete in 1995
- Venetia Williams in 2009 with Mon Mome
- Sue Smith with Auroras Encore in 2013
- Lucinda Russell with One For Arthur in 2017
The list may be small but three of those women are still training and can easily win it again.
There are also other notable performances from the likes of Jessica Harrington who had the 2nd place finished in 2019 with Magic Of Light. Rebecca Curtis and Kerry Lee have saddled multiple entries.
For 2021, Denise Foster, Jessica Harrington, Katy Price and Georgie Howell will all saddle runners.