Cheltenham Racecourse has announced that Venetia Williams is the winner of this year’s award for ‘The Outstanding Contribution made by a Lady to Jump Racing’.
Venetia won the John Smith’s Grand National in 2009 with Mon Mome and in the same year added two more victories at The Festival at Cheltenham to her impressive CV.
The panel of judges, made up of several female professionals from different sides of the racing industry, had a tough job finding a winner, but Venetia emerged victorious in an incredibly tight vote. Others on the shortlist were Joan Moore, Jessica Harrington, Sally Alner, Clare Balding and equine therapist Belinda Cullen.
Commenting on the news, Edward Gillespie, Managing Director of Cheltenham, declared: “I am delighted that after a stellar year in a wonderful career Venetia Williams has been recognised in this way.
“The victory of Mon Mome in last year’s Grand National did as much as anything in the last 12 months to highlight the contribution that women make to the wonderful sport of Jump racing and it would be fitting if Venetia was able to add to her Festival tally next week.”
Venetia Williams said: “I’m honoured to have been chosen to receive this award, which owes much to the fantastic team that I work with at home and the loyal owners who have supported me over the years since I began training.”
The award will be presented in a ceremony before racing on Ladies Day, Thursday, 18 March, in the winner’s enclosure at Cheltenham Racecourse.
The Festival starts on Tuesday, 16 March and concludes on Friday, 19 March.
ABOUT VENETIA WILLIAMS
Venetia Williams always knew that her life was going to revolve around horses. After briefly considering a career as a show jumper, she has dedicated her life to Jump racing.
One of the first ladies to ride in the John Smiths Grand National, Venetia spent time as assistant trainer to John Edwards and Martin Pipe as well as a spell with Barry Hills, and in 1995 she set up on her own with less than a dozen horses in beautiful countryside close to the River Wye in rural Herefordshire.
From relatively humble beginnings, she now has 100 boxes with a strike rate which is the envy of most other trainers. Williams has trained the winners of scores of big races, including the Hennessy Gold Cup, the King George VI Chase, the Paddy Power Gold Cup, the Coral Welsh National and five Cheltenham Festival races, including two in 2009.
Until April last year, she was probably best known for her superb handling of the tiny but gallant mare Lady Rebecca, who lit up Jump racing for five years, but that all changed when Mon Mome galloped clear of the Grand National field for a famous victory at 100/1, elevating his trainer to international prominence.
Venetia Williams has been the top female Jump trainer for a number of years and is quite clearly one of the leading ladies of Jump racing. Her successes last spring have done as much as anything in the last 12 months to highlight the role of women in Jump racing.