This year’s QIPCO Guineas meeting at Newmarket will include the Ellen Chaloner Stakes, named in honour of the the first woman in the UK to be issued with a training licence in 1886.
Ellen Chaloner, a daughter of the trainer Johnny Osborne Sr, was granted a training licence following the death of her husband, Tom, who was a Derby-winning jockey before turning to training. It was another 80 years before the High Court gave legal recognition to female trainers.
Chaloner, who died in 1944 at the age of 98, was laid to rest in an unmarked grave in Newmarket Cemetery. Her trailblazing career, which included a victory in the Triennial Stakes at Royal Ascot with Jersey Lily in 1887, is now being formally commemorated thanks to a campaign launched by her descendants and supported by The Jockey Club.
Members of Chaloner’s family gathered at Newmarket’s Jockey Club Rooms last weekend, including her great-great grandson, the former Irish champion jump jockey Charlie Swan. He said, “When I started riding my mum kept telling me that my great-great grandmother and father used to ride and train horses, but it sort of went over my head a little bit when I was that age. I didn’t really think about it. It’s only in the last few years that I suddenly realised where my riding talents probably came from.”
Swan added: “It’s fantastic that Ellen is getting some recognition and hopefully we’ll make it there on the day.”
The campaign has also enabled the purchase of two new headstones to mark where Chaloner and other members of her family are buried, and will make a contribution to the Women In Racing Bursary Fund to support females currently working in racing.
Chaloner trained from Osborne House in the heart of Newmarket, which is now occupied by horses trained by the town’s longest-standing trainer and history buff, Sir Mark Prescott. It is situated directly opposite Heath House.
“She was a remarkable woman and she lived in some style,” said Prescott. “Osborne House, which is named after the family, has 10 bedrooms and the cellars are massive.”
He added, “I’m very proud of her. I always tell everybody when they look round at the stables.”
Previously known as the Kilvington Stakes and staged at Nottingham, the Ellen Chaloner S. is run over six furlongs for fillies aged three and up. Permission for the name change, which will be in perpetuity, was granted by the British Horseracing Authority’s Flat Pattern Committee. A portrait of Ellen Chaloner will be on display at Newmarket’s Rowley Mile racecourse.