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Article 1st May 2024 Newmarket

By Stephen Wallis

The first race on QIPCO Guineas Saturday, the Ellen Chaloner Stakes, formerly the Kilvington Stakes is named after someone many racegoers might not be aware of. 

Ellen Chaloner was the first woman trainer in Britain which she became in 1886 following the death of her husband Tom, a ten-time Classic winning jockey who also trained Scot Free to win the 1884 2000 Guineas.    

Ellen, who was born in Middleham in 1846, was steeped in racing. Her father John Osborne snr was a trainer and her brother John Osborne jnr rode twelve Classic winners including the 1869 Derby on Pretender. Ellen’s brother rode the winner of the 2000 Guineas six times, the last in 1888 when aged 55.           

Stepping up to replace her husband, Ellen trained from Osborne House, Newmarket where Group 1 winning trainer Sir Mark Prescott now trains from. A remarkable lady Ellen ran a family of seven, six boys and girl and trained horses between 1886 and 1894.

Her biggest achievement came in 1887 when her filly Jersey Lily, who had run unplaced in that year’s Oaks won the Triennial Stakes at Royal Ascot, now the Jersey Stakes, to become the first woman to train a winner at the Royal meeting. Ellen’s son George rode the filly. George missed a Derby victory coming 2nd in1895 and 3rd   in 1894.

Ellen died in March 1944 aged 98 and was closely associated with the racing scene in Newmarket all her life.     

Until recently Ellen was buried in an unmarked grave in Newmarket cemetery, across the road from the Rowley Mile course, but following a campaign by members of her family, led by Marietta Krikhaar, Ellen’s great granddaughter, and supported by the Jockey Club, a beautifully designed headstone recognising the trailblazing trainer was erected in October 2023. 

A ceremony to unveil two headstones for Ellen, Tom, and members of her family on 21st October was attended by Simon Bailey, the National Chaplain to Horse Racing, Sir Mark Prescott, and many family members.

Members of Ellen’s family will be at the Rowley Mile to celebrate this special lady in the history of turf.   

For those of you at the Rowley Mile today spare a thought for Ellen.

For more details of Ellen’s story, you will find a vodcast recorded live at the Jockey Club rooms in Newmarket in March 2023 to celebrate International Women’s Day on The Paddock and The Pavilion’s YouTube channel.   


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