The First Woman to ride in the Grand National - Part 2

3rd April 2019

We resume our story about Charlotte Budd, née Brew, who in 1977 aged 21, became the First Woman to ride in the Grand National.

Charlotte’s photograph can also be viewed in Anita Corbin’s fabulous 100 First Women exhibition currently on display at Palace House until 10 June.

42 runners went to post on Saturday 2 April.   The Fred Rimell trained Andy Pandy headed the betting at 15/2 with then dual winner Red Rum at 9/1 whilst Davy Lad, the recent Cheltenham Gold Cup victor was 10/1. The 12 year old Barony Fort carrying 10st 1Ib was one of the major outsiders at 200/1.


What were your race tactics?

I was going to pick my way round on the outside and hope he got round.  I knew he wasn’t fast enough unless it was a Foinavon year.  I had hoped just to get round but it wasn’t to be.

How was Barony Fort jumping on the first circuit and after jumping the Chair were you confident he would get round?

He was fine, he was going quite nicely at that stage. We were already behind.  As I jumped the Chair I heard the commentator say Barony Fort is still going.  There was an incredible cheer from the crowd and I’ve got a picture of it with people throwing their hats in the air as we jumped the Chair.

Seven horses went at the first in 1977.  “Yes they were all trying to get out of my way " joked Charlotte.

You must have been very disappointed when you refused at the 26th but also very proud of your achievement?


Bitterly disappointed.   You put a brave face on things don’t you because you don’t let people know, but that wasn’t how it felt

Fourth from home is the last really  big open  ditch, there were no holes in it and I was following another one and that pulled up just before it  and when Barony saw that he said I’m not going any further and I don’t blame him.   We had a few goes at it but then called it a day.

Of the 31 horses who failed to complete the course Barony Fort had travelled the farthest.

Did Red Rum winning his record breaking third Grand National take a bit of pressure of you after the race?

Yes it did.  It was marvellous.  Everyone was absolutely delighted about it and I couldn’t believe how wonderful it was.  Now we look upon it be a  miracle if a horse won it twice and he won it three times and was second twice.

Were there any benefits you experienced after the race or later during 1977?

The Daily Mirror chartered Concorde to go to America and back in a day.  Each of their departments was allowed to invite two people and their sports department invited me and the boxer, John Conteh.  He was very nervous because his wife was expecting a baby at the time.

John Conteh was then the world Light-Heavy weight Champion.

I was on Sports Personality of the Year, the year when Red Rum came up in the lift.  I remember when his jockey Tommy Stack spoke on the big screen Red Rum’s ears pricked up to say I know that voice.   He was an amazing horse.

Do you think a woman jockey will win the Grand National and when?

Not long now I am sure. There are some jolly good girls.  I am sure it won’t be long before one of them win the race.

Bryony Frost is a local girl and she is fantastic.   I just love watching her, the horses run for her.

Where are you working now and are you still involved with horses?

I have four point to pointers at home in Somerset.  I also have a catering business doing weddings and I have a few corporate clients.

When we telephoned Charlotte she had been pushing her wheelbarrow at home!

My three children have all grown up and gone.  Catherine runs an internet bank in Dubai, Oliver is a Chartered Engineer and Richard is an engineer.  I am immensely proud of them all.

I still go racing and am due to go point to pointing on Sunday.

We understand you have a personal interest in this year’s Grand National?

I am very excited because James Best, who had his first winner on my point to pointer has sneaked into the National on Walk In The Mill, owned by Dido Harding who I have met when I was doing the catering for one of her relation's weddings.   He was no 64 in the handicap so at one stage didn't look like getting a run, but enough horses have come out so that he will get his chance after all. He won the Becher Chase earlier in the season over the fences but I think the ground maybe too quick for him.  I will be completely delirious if he wins!

Charlotte rode Martinstown in the 1982 Grand National but was unseated at the 3rd.  Since then she has only been back once to Aintree but will be tuning in again this year when she hopes a female jockey could win the world’s most famous race.


Blog by Stephen Wallis, Visitor Services