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Press Release 1st April 2021 Aintree

Aintree Racecourse and Women in Racing are delighted to announce that heptathlon superstar Katarina Johnson-Thompson will join a stellar panel hosted by ITV Racing’s Alice Plunkett for the sixth Aintree Grand Women’s Summit, which will be streamed online for all to enjoy.


This year’s Aintree Grand Women’s Summit Panel includes:

  • 2019 heptathlon World Champion, Katarina Johnson-Thompson
  • Tennis coach, Judy Murray
  • Three-time Olympic medallist, Pippa Funnell
  • Olympian and former Eventing World Champion, Zara Tindall
  • Head Physio to the Birmingham Royal Ballet, England Rugby, Eventing team, Kate Davis


Hosted by ITV Racing’s Alice Plunkett, the panel will discuss the challenges professional sport presents to mental health, with this year’s event taking the title: ‘Sport and Mental Health: A Powerful Relationship’.

The key themes throughout the discussion will include how professional athletes can look after their mental health, the benefits of sport for our mental state, the role of coaches, organisations and support mechanisms as well as the challenges of the last 12 months and how it’s affected people and athletes from a mental wellbeing perspective.

ITV Racing presenter and former event rider and Jump jockey, Alice Plunkett, said: “I am really excited to be hosting the first virtual Aintree Grand Women’s Summit, as part of the Randox Grand National Festival. This year more than ever, everyone’s mental health has been at the forefront of discussions, particularly in the sporting world.

“I look forward to joining the other panellists on Zoom to discuss how the pandemic has impacted them personally and professionally, and the challenges that can come with the pressures of elite sport.

“It is always a fantastic event and I am delighted that we are able to continue it for 2021.”

In addition, this year will see the launch of a new accolade, the Rose Paterson Award for a Sportswoman in the Community. The late Chairman of Aintree Racecourse passed away in the summer of 2020, and was a the driving factor in launching the Aintree Grand Women’s Summit, as well as the racecourse’s close work within the community. The award will be presented each year to a sportswoman in the local community.

Dickon White, Regional Director for Jockey Club Racecourses North West, said: “The Aintree Grand Women’s Summit is going from strength to strength and we’re delighted that this year’s event will still be able to take place, albeit virtually.

“Rose Paterson was extremely involved with the Grand Women’s Summit so it is particularly fitting that we are able to introduce an award in her name to recognise a sportswoman within the local community. Two things that Rose was so passionate about.

“We are looking forward to being able to stream the event on our website and social media channels for all to be able to enjoy, before hopefully welcoming it back to the racecourse once more in April 2022.” 

Chair of Women in Racing, Tallulah Lewis, said: “Women in Racing is delighted to once again have the chance to partner with Aintree Racecourse for what promises to be another fantastic Grand Women’s Summit.

“Mental health is a crucially important topic for us all and we hope the Grand Women’s Summit can help continue to open up the discussion, while providing viewers with a unique way of enjoying the Randox Grand National Festival.”


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