First female winning jockey returns to Chester Racecourse after 49 years

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The first female to ever win a race at Chester Race’s first ever Ladies Race is set to revisit the world’s oldest race ground on Ladies Day as a special guest of the directors. 

Joan Calvert-Brown, now 77, was the first female to ever win a race at Chester. She won the race in 1973 after it was agreed that women could ride in horse races in 1972.  

A strong advocate for allowing women to race, Joan was one of the founding members of the Lady Jockey’s Foundation. Joan is still a strong force in the world of horse racing today, working closely with the Injured Jockey Fund 

Louise Stewart, Chief Executive Officer, Chester Racecourse said: ‘To host Joan at Ladies Day after all this time is a total delight for the team here. She was one of the many women jockeys that battled for equality in racing, and we are so grateful for her – and her cohort – who relentlessly championed women in the sport against a great deal of scepticism. Joan is an important character in Chester racecourse’s rich and long history, and we will celebrate her story for many years to come.’ 

Joan rode ‘Uncle Edward’ in the inaugural Ladies Race when the owner Edward Scutt agreed to support her. The race sponsor was Ellis Barker Furs and Fashion  who gifted the prize of a fur coat. 

Joan Calvert in 1973
Joan Calvert riding Uncle Edward in 1973

Joan Calvert-Brown said: ‘There was a great deal of controversy at the time, so I was so grateful to Edward Scutt, the owner, to let me ride and to the race sponsor Ellis Barker. We really needed this support from the establishment, to help us participate in the sport.’ 

Joan, who now currently resides in Malton, North Yorkshire, is revisiting Chester Racecourse to remember her victory: ‘I remember that Uncle Edward, the horse I was riding was a mile-and-a-half horse and the race was ten-furlong. As the ground was soft, I knew that would be a great advantage to me. It was amazing to win the race, not least because of the great regard I have for Chester Racecourse – it’s unique and has so much history. I’m thrilled to be back and remember a great historic win. And I’m so happy to witness how far women’s racing has come – and women’s sport in general.’ 

Ladies Day tickets are available directly through the Chester Racecourse website. 

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