Jenny Pitman

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Jenny Pitman
OccupationHorse trainer, novelist
Born (1946-06-11) 11 June 1946 (age 73)
Major racing wins
Grand National (1983, 1995) Cheltenham Gold Cup (1984, 1991)
Significant horses
Corbiere, Royal Athlete, Esha Ness, Burrough Hill Lad, Garrison Savannah

Jennifer Susan Pitman OBE (née Harvey, born 11 June 1946[1][2]), known as Jenny Pitman,[3] is a former British racehorse trainer and author. She became the first woman to train a Grand National winner, when Corbiere won the race in 1983. She went on to win a second Grand National with Royal Athlete in 1995. She has also trained two Cheltenham Gold Cup winners with Burrough Hill Lad in 1984 and with Garrison Savanah in 1991. Following her retirement from horse training in 1998 she became a writer of novels, principally with a racing theme. She is a member of the Disciplinary Panel and Licensing Committee of the British Horseracing Authority.


Pitman was born as Jennifer Susan Harvey on her family's farm near Hoby, Leicestershire, one of seven children. She was brought up assisting in manual farm work, where horse powered equipment was a novelty, and learned to ride a pony "so young that being on horseback seemed as natural as walking". In 1957 she left the Hoby village school to attend Sarson Secondary Modern Girls' School in Melton Mowbray. She sustained a fractured skull when a showjumping pole fell on her head during a gymkhana at Syston, it was many months before resultant convulsions were diagnosed. At the age of 14, she obtained a weekend and school holiday job at Brooksby Grange horse racing yard.[1]

Pitman left school two weeks before her 15th birthday, taking up a position as a stable girl at Brooksby Grange for a weekly wage of £3 4s 5d. Her first overnight stop was at Manchester where her filly, Star Princess, won the 1962 Diomedes Handicap. Two years later she changed jobs, moving to a stable in Bishop's Cleeve, Gloucestershire, the first time she had lived away from her Leicestershire home.[1]

Adult life[edit]

Pitman worked at Bishop's Cleeve for two years. One day there, she was returning from a workout on the local gallops when her horse was spooked by a cyclist travelling around a corner too fast and on the wrong side of the road. The cyclist in question was jockey Richard Pitman. Jenny's initial reaction to Richard was unfavourable, but later, when Richard obtained a job in Lambourn at Fred Winter's training stables 50 miles (80 km) from Bishop's Cleeve, Jenny was persuaded to apply for a job in Lambourn with Major Champneys at Church Farm Stables. She moved in 1964.[1]

Aged 19, she married Richard Pitman. In August 1966, their son Mark Pitman was born and Jenny became a full-time housewife. Son Paul was born in October 1967. In the next winter, missing the world of horses, they bought a 6-acre (24,000 m2) property with stables and an indoor school in Hinton Parva to provide a service to other trainers for recuperating injured horses. In 'Parva Stud', the family struggled to live in an unheated caravan. By the end of 1968 Pitman had 8 horses at the yard. With Richard's second place prize from the 1969 Grand National, the Pitmans were able to commission a bungalow on the premises to escape the poor condition caravan. In 1969 she employed a 'lad' to assist at the yard, Melvyn Saddler, who became her right-hand man as her success grew.[1]

In February 1974, Pitman was able to enter a horse she had trained in her first point-to-point race. Ridden by stable lad Bryan Smart, Road Race didn't figure in the race betting, but amazingly managed to pass the favourite after the last fence to win.[1]

In 1975 she was successful in getting her first horse training licence and her first winner came in the very same year.

In 1977 Jenny and Richard divorced. Jenny left Wiltshire and moved to Lambourn, Berkshire. She is now married to businessman David Stait.

In 1983 she became the first woman to train a Grand National winner, when Corbiere was the victor.[4] She was to win one other Grand National with Royal Athlete in 1995 although her horse Esha Ness was first past the post in the void National of 1993.[5]

In 1998 she was awarded the OBE for services to horseracing[6] and subsequently retired from training racehorses in 1999, handing over the reins to son, Mark. Pitman was the first winner of the Helen Rollason award at the BBC Sports Personality Of The Year Awards.

Although still seen at the races, she is now a prolific writer of novels, principally with a racing spin.[7] Pitman is a survivor of thyroid cancer and a patron of the British Thyroid Foundation.[8]. In 2017 She became a member of the Disciplinary Panel and Licensing Committee of the British Horseracing Authority[9][10]


Glorious Uncertainty (1984)

On the Edge (2002)

Double Deal (2002)

The Dilemma (2003)

The Vendetta (2004)

The Inheritance (2005)


  1. ^ a b c d e f ISBN 1-85225-254-5 "Jenny Pitman, The Autobiography"
  2. ^ "BBC - Radio 4 Woman's Hour - Timeline:Jenny Pitman". 2010. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  3. ^ "Pitman gives thanks for her dream career". The Independent. 10 April 1995. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  4. ^ Grand National website Archived 12 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Grand National website, op cit. (1998-10-27). Retrieved on 10 August 2011.
  6. ^ MacMillan website. Retrieved on 12 May 2014.
  7. ^ cache page. Retrieved on 10 August 2011.
  8. ^ Patrons BTF Website
  9. ^ "Jenny Pitman joins British Horseracing Authority disciplinary panel". BBC. 12 June 2017. Retrieved 3 March 2019.
  10. ^ "Jenny Pitman OBE". British Horseracing Authority. Retrieved 3 March 2019.

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