Home   Newmarket   News   Article

Subscribe Now

Newmarket campaign succeeds as first licenced female racehorse trainer to be honoured with grave marker and race named in her honour

A campaign started by the Newmarket Journal more than five years ago has succeeded in getting recognition for a local woman who was the first in the UK to be issued with a licence to train racehorses.

Ellen Chaloner’s grave has been unmarked in Newmarket Cemetery since her death at the age of 98, in 1944, with much of her extraordinary life story unrecorded, and forgotten, at least until 2016 when the Journal highlighted her remarkable story after being contacted by Chris Liesack, a distant relative.

In 2021 that story was spotted by Marietta Krikhaar, Ellen’s great granddaughter, who was determined her illustrious ancestor’s grave should have a proper headstone, and rallied members of her family, including her great great grandson, retired Irish champion jump jockey Charlie Swan, behind the project.

Horse trainer Charlie Swan unveils a picture in honour of Ellen Chaloner. Picture: Mecha Morton
Horse trainer Charlie Swan unveils a picture in honour of Ellen Chaloner. Picture: Mecha Morton

Now, as a result of the fund-raising campaign launched by her descendants and support from the Jockey Club, the woman dubbed by the Journal, in its obituary for Ellen, as the grand old lady of the Turf will not only finally have a headstone on her grave but will have a race run at the Rowley Mile on QIPCO 2,000 Guineas Day, named after her.

Previously the Kilvington Stakes and run at Nottingham, the race over six furlongs for fillies aged three years and up was transferred to Newmarket last year. Its name had now been changed to The Ellen Chaloner Stakes, and will remain in perpetuity.

A contribution will also be made to the Women In Racing’s bursary fund to support the professional development of women working in racing today.

At the Jockey Club on Monday, members of Ellen’s family gathered to celebrate her achievements ahead of International Women’s Day.

The sister of a Classic winning jockey, John Osborne, Ellen married another in Tom Chaloner, and together they lived at the stable in Newmarket’s Moulton Road, which still bears Ellen’s family name. When Tom died in 1886 with none of their sons old enough to take over, Ellen applied for permission to train the family’s string of horses herself, and it was granted by The Jockey Club, some 80 years before the High Court finally gave female racehorse trainers legal recognition.

Osborne House is now home to long standing trainer Sir Mark Prescott who said: “She was a remarkable woman. I’m very proud of her. I always tell everybody when they look round at the stables.”