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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 April, 2005, 10:28 GMT 11:28 UK
Women in the Grand National
WOMEN RIDERS IN G NATIONAL
1977 Charlotte Brew (R)
1979/80 Jenny Hembrow (F/PU)
1981 Linda Sheedy (R)
1982/83 Geraldine Rees (8th/F)
1983 Joy Carrier (F)
1984 Valerie Alder (F)
1987 Jacqui Oliver (UR)
1988 Gee Armytage (PU)
1988 Venetia Williams (F)
1988 Penny Ffitch-Heyes (F)
1989 Tarnya Davies (PU)
1994 Rosemary Henderson (5th)
(R- Refused, P - Pulled Up,
F - Fell)
When Carrie Ford rides Forest Gunner the Grand National on Saturday, she will join an elite group of females to have competed in the world-famous race.

Just 12 women have ridden in the Grand National - and none since 1994 - with only two completing the race.

Jenny Pitman remains the only woman to have trained a Grand National winner.

She saddled Corbiere to win in 1983 and repeated the feat in 1995 with Royal Athlete - her Esha Ness also 'won' the void National in 1993.

Here we look at some of the leading ladies who have ridden in the Aintree marathon.

CHARLOTTE BREW

The 21-year-old became the first woman to ride in the Grand National, in a year when the winning horse, Red Rum, was trained by Ginger McCain.

Brew and 200-1 shot Barony Fort were tailed off by the halfway stage but kept going until the horse eventually refused four fences from home.

True to form, McCain broke off from celebrating Red Rum's third victory in the race to declare that the Grand National was no place for female riders.

JENNY HEMBROW

Hembrow is one of just two women to have two cracks at the race.

Her first attempt on Sandwilan in 1979 proved short-lived when the pair parted company at the first fence.

Undaunted, she tried again on the same horse the following year and got to the 19th before pulling up.

GERALDINE REES

Rees became the first woman to complete the course when Cheers came eighth (and last) in 1982.

And Rees' second attempt the following year was soon over when 500-1 shot Midday Welcome fell at the first.

VENETIA WILLIAMS

Venetia Williams
Venetia Williams fell at Becher's

Williams rode 200-1 chance Marcolo in the 1989 Grand National and negotiated five fences before falling at Becher's.

Less than a fortnight later her career as a amateur jockey was brought to an end when she broke her neck in a fall at Worcester.

Williams is now one of the leading jumps trainers in the country but has found little success in the Grand National - of her 10 runners in the race, just two have finished with her best achievement coming when General Wolfe was 12th in 1999.

ROSEMARY HENDERSON

At the age of 51 and dubbed "the galloping granny" by the tabloid press, Henderson rode on Fiddlers Pike in 1994.

Fiddlers Pike was her own horse and by her own admission, he was "a touch on the wild side" and was sent off a 100-1 shot.

But the 13-year-old did her proud in a race in which just six horses finished, completing the course in fifth place, 55 lengths behind winner Miinehoma.

CARRIE FORD

Carrie Ford and Forest Gunner tackle the National fences
Ford and Forest Gunner have won over National fences

Ford caused a stir at Aintree last year when she won the Foxhunters' Chase (ridden over National fences) on Forest Gunner just 10 weeks after giving birth.

She has come out of retirement to ride this year but has several factors in her favour in her quest to become the first female jockey to win the race.

Firstly, no horse ridden by a woman has started at shorter than 28-1 but Forest Gunner looks set to start as one of the favourites.

And Ford will be the first woman to ride in the famous steeplechase having already won over National fences - on Forest Gunner.



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