The Grand National – Could a Female Jockey Win the Trophy in 2018?

The nation’s favourite steeplechase takes place on Saturday, with 40 jockeys and horses taking on the notoriously challenging course. This year’s line-up is set to include three women, equalling the record for the most female jockeys in one Grand National race. So, who are they and how did their predecessors fare?

The 2018 Grand National – Which Female Jockeys Are In the Mix?

The most successful female jockey at the Grand National so far, Katie Walsh, will be aiming to surpass her greatest achievement in the race. The 33-year-old Irish jockey, who finished third on Seabass in 2012, will be riding Aintree-novice Baie Des Iles.

Bryony Frost will be hoping to emulate her father’s best performance in the 30-jump race when she tackles it on Milansbar. Jimmy Frost and Little Polveir beat Richard Dunwoody and West Tip by seven lengths to win the horse racing trophy in 1989.

According to the Telegraph, this weekend will be the first time that Rachael Blackmore has even been to Aintree, let alone raced there. However, the Irish jockey is planning to demonstrate her racing prowess by riding Alpha Des Obeaux to victory.

Making Horse Racing History – Who Was The First Woman to Compete in the Race?

In the 1940s, Elizabeth Taylor’s starred in “National Velvet”, the story of a 14-year old girl who disguises herself as a boy to compete in the famous steeplechase on her beloved horse, “The Pie”. While the story was fictional, it’s true that women weren’t originally allowed to participate in the race.

The rules were altered in 1977 and Charlotte Brew made history that year by becoming the first women to take part. She made it as far as the 26th fence on Barony Fort, but the 12-year-old horse decided he’d had enough and refused to jump it. Only eleven horses finished the race, with the trophy being awarded to Tommy Stack on Red Rum.

Racking Up Records – What Else Have the Grand National’s Female Jockeys Achieved?

Charlotte Brew also competed in the 1982 edition of the race on Martinstown. Unfortunately, she couldn’t beat her previous performance, as the horse unseated her at the third fence. Despite this, she managed to make her mark on horse racing again, as this was the first time that the event had featured two female jockeys. The other contender, Geraldine Rees, also made her way into the sporting history books in her own right that day, by becoming the first women to make it across the finish line. Rees and the aptly-named Cheers finished in eighth place.

The record for the highest number of female jockeys to have taken part in a single edition of the race was set in 1988. The jockeys and riders were: Penny Ffitch-Heyes on Hettinger, who took a tumble at the first; Venetia Williams on Marcolo, who fell at Becher’s Brook on the opening lap; and Gee Armytage on Gee-A. Armytage was leading at the 19th but had to pull up at the 26th with a back injury.

In all, fifteen women have competed in the race so far, making twenty-six attempts between them. Eleven of those resulted in course completions. Nina Carberry leads the way when it comes to the most attempts, having competed in the race on six occasions, although Katie Walsh is set to draw level with her this year.

Who are you backing to win the 2018 Grand National? Do you think a female jockey can triumph at Aintree this year? Add your thoughts below.

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