Nowadays, Jennifer Susan “Jenny” Pitman OBE is best known as a novelist and, more recently, as a member of the disciplinary panel and licensing committee at the British Horseracing Authority (BHA). However, “Mrs P”, as she was affectionately – and, sometimes, less affectionately – known, has the distinction of being the first woman to train the winner of the Grand National.
Reflecting on the history victory of Corbiere in 1983, Jenny wrote in her autobiography, “I could hardly bear to watch, but I couldn’t turn away either.” Ridden by Ben de Haan, Corbiere jumped brilliantly throughout the 4 mile 3½ furlong-contest and, despite the desperate, last gasp challenge of Greasepaint, crossed the line three-quarters of a length in front.
Jenny saddled another Grand National “winner”, Esha Ness, in 1993, but he was called home by the late Sir Peter O’Sullevan as the winner of “the National that surely isn’t”. The Jockey Club was forced to declare the race void after the majority of the jockeys, including John White on Esha Ness, failed to realise a false start had been called. Jenny did, however, win a second Grand National with Royal Athlete, ridden by Jason Titley, in 1995.