The Grand National’s leading ladies

sue smith Grand national

Photo courtesy of Grand National Guide

Jenny Pitman was the first female trainer to win the Grand National in 1983 with Corbiere, and she followed up with another success in 1995, Royal Athlete the victor.

Female trainers have had a fantastic record in the Grand National in recent years, with three of the last nine winners being trained by Venetia Williams, Sue Smith and Lucinda Russell.

The leading ladies have a strong cast of hopefuls for the big race this year so keep your eyes peeled on their horses come Saturday.

Sue Smith

Auroras Encore’s stunning 66/1 success in the 2013 renewal provided trainer Sue Smith with the biggest triumph of her training career.

The West Yorkshire handler became only the third woman to train a winner of the world-famous race, emulating Venetia Williams and Jenny Pitman. Here’s Sue Smith reflecting on that famous win.

This year’s Aintree squad consists of real chances in I Just Know (25/1) and Vintage Clouds (33/1) as well as 66/1 outsider Delusionofgrandeur.

Leading contender I Just Know has attracted a lot of attention in the betting markets in recent months, going from 150/1 in January to 25/1 (at time of writing), his victory in the North Yorkshire National showcased his impressive jumping which is a big plus for Aintree.

Venetia Williams

A true National Hunt stalwart, Venetia Williams cemented her name into Grand National history when training 100/1 outsider Mon Mome to victory in 2009.

The then nine-year-old Mon Mome co-holds the record for longest-odds winner of the National, but unlike the fabled 1967 winner Foinavon, this win owed nothing to good fortune and could principally be attributed to a masterful training performance.

The Herefordshire-based handler has hit form at just the right time, with seven wins in the last two days, exactly where you want to be ahead of the National.

Williams has two runners for the big one, with 50/1 Houblon Des Obeaux and 125/1 Tenor Nivernais. Assistant trainer and Grand National winning jockey Liam Treadwell spoke to Racing UK about their chances.

Bryony Frost

She’s the undoubted rising star of the weighing room at the minute, the 22-year old has been making waves across National Hunt racing this season as Paul Nicholls’ conditional jockey.

It was in late 2017 when Frost propelled herself onto the Jumps scene when she landed the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase on Black Corton, making her only the second female jockey in Britain or Ireland to win a Grade One race over obstacles.

The leading conditional jockey rides 33/1 shot Milansbar, trained by Neil King.

King acquired the services of Frost, who guided Milansbar to victory in the Classic Chase at Warwick in January on the only occasion she has partnered him in a race.

“It’s great to have Bryony on board again. She schooled him over National-style fences in Lambourn the other day and all went well,” said King.

Lucinda Russell

Lucinda Russell ended a 38-year wait for a Scottish victory in the Grand National with One For Arthur winning last year’s race.

Although Russell does not have any entries for this year’s race, she has already stated that “One For Arthur’s rehabilitation will be tailored to bring him back for the Grand National in 2019”.

Katie Walsh

Quite simply the most successful female jockey in Grand National history, Katie Walsh got to within touching distance of racing immortality in 2012 when she finished a close third aboard Seabass.

This year Walsh will ride 22/1 shot Baie Des Iles, and if the pair were to win it would be one of the Grand Nationals that lives long in the memory.

It would be a momentous first for a female jockey to win the race, Baie Des Iles would also be the first mare to win it since Nickel Coin in 1951, the first seven-year-old since Bogskar in 1940 and only the fourth grey horse to land the prize.

Walsh has had plenty of big race success, including as recently as the 2018 Cheltenham Festival where she won the Champion Bumper with Relegate (below).


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