• Posted: Friday, 15th June 2018
  • Author: Carl Evans
  • Photo: Carl Evans

A chance to catch last weeks column which featured a couple of female trail blazers in Jump racing...

Two of racing's most famous women path-finders can be seen quietly going about their business at British point-to-points throughout the season.

They could probably walk into any women's achievements ceremony and go unrecognised, yet by breaking moulds in the famously tough world of Jump racing they propelled female participation into another sphere. A week last Sunday they both trained point-to-point winners.

Charlotte Budd (pictured below), the first woman to ride in the Grand National, saddled Cothelstone winner Rien Du Tout, while Caroline Robinson (pictured above), who became the first woman to ride a Cheltenham Festival winner and one over Aintree's National fences, prepared Oh Toodles to win at Sedgefield's annual point-to-point fixture.

Budd's moment of National fame came in 1977, when, riding under her maiden name of Brew, she and Barony Fort got to the fourth-last fence where he refused, while Robinson was Miss Beasley when partnering her own Eliogarty to victory in Cheltenham's Foxhunter Chase in 1983 and Aintree's equivalent race in 1986. Brew's mount was a total outsider, yet the media's pre-race coverage was intense – it was less bothered after the event, but that was because the greatest National horse, Red Rum, had won the race for a third time and deserved all the headlines.

Budd and Robinson's achievements have become diluted over the years by numerous successes for women in races on the Flat and over jumps, but I remember the awe they provoked at the time. A woman winning at the Festival had seemed about as likely as one scoring a century at Lord's, while Budd's willingness to ride in the National – remember the fences were stiffer, the drops bigger and there was a gaping ditch named after Becher – suggested to me she was the world's bravest woman, a notion confirmed when she later lined up in the Pardubicka.

I have seen Budd, who lives in Somerset, and Robinson, who is based in Shropshire, at countless point-to-points and occasionally chatted to them. They are always modest, when I expect them to be permanently beaming at their contribution to racing.

Owning and training point-to-pointers has enabled them to continue participating in a sport which briefly carried them to a far-wider audience.

(Charlotte Budd)