How have female jockeys fared in the Grand National?
It’s only in the last 40 years that lady riders have had a say in the history of the Grand National.
Charlotte Brew was the first ever to ride in the race when partnering Barony Fort in Red Rum’s final Aintree outing in 1977. She settled out the back of the field and was a fence behind by first Becher’s, but still carried on going until the 27th fence where the horse decided enough was enough and duly refused.
Jenny Hembrow tried twice on Sandwilan and failed to complete; as did Linda Sheedy on Deiopea in 1981, but in 1982 Geraldine Rees rode Cheers to complete the course in eighth and last place after getting badly detached going out onto the second circuit. Charlotte Brew also had a ride in the race on Martinstown, but was unseated at the third fence.
The following year (1983) saw Rees suffer the embarrassment of a first fence tumble from Midday Welcome, with other failures to complete from Valerie Alder in 1984, Gee Armytage, Penny Ffitch-Heyes and Venetia Williams in 1988, plus Tarnya Davies in 1989.
In 1994, 51-year-old Rosemary Henderson completed the course on Fiddler’s Pike. She was labelled the ‘Galloping Grandmother’, which was ironic as she didn’t have any grandchildren!
More recently, Carrie Ford had the first real chance for a lady rider to win the race on Forest Gunner in 2005, but was a brave fifth to Hedgehunter. He returned the following year with Nina Carberry in the saddle to finish ninth.
She has also completed twice on Character Building before being unseated on Organisedconfusion in 2012. Katie Walsh got the ride of her life from Seabass in 2012, before being a disappointing favourite the following year.
Carberry has a fair record over the fences, including taking her first win in yesterday’s Foxhunters on On The Fringe. She rides Cause Of Causes on Saturday, and he comes into the race a Cheltenham Festival winner having won the four mile National Hunt Chase. He also has solid handicap form, but the worry is whether he will be able to keep up with the pace.