Who was the first female jockey to ride a winner at the Cheltenham Festival?
However, the first female jockey to ride a winner at the Cheltenham Festival was Caroline Robinson (née Beasley), who won the Foxhunter Chase – a race restricted to amateur jockeys – on her own horse, Eliogarty, in 1983. Originally bought by her father, Jeremy, and trained in Co. Claire, Ireland, by John Hassett, Eliogarty was once described by Robinson as ‘the greatest present anyone’s ever given me’. Three years later, Robinson won the Aintree Foxhunters on the same horse, therbey becoming the first female jockey to ride a winner over the Grand National fences, too.
Back at the Cheltenham Festival, though, the first female jockey to ride a winner against fully fledged professionals was Gee Armytage who, in 1987, won the Kim Muir Challenge Cup on The Ellier, trained by Nigel Tinkler. Just for good measure, at the same Festival, Armytage also won the Mildmay of Flete Challenge Cup on the aptly-named Gee-A, trained by Geoff Hubbard. She came close to making further history by winning the leading jockey award – the first female jockey to actually do so was Rachael Blackmore in 2021 – but lost out on ‘countback’ to Peter Scudamore.