On this day in history : 25th August 1804 – Alicia Thornton rides her horse, Vinigrillo, over a four mile race at York Racecourse to become the first known female jockey….
Even though she rode side-saddle Alicia was an accomplished horsewoman; she was known for her skills and frequently rode with the hounds….
Not a great deal is known about her early life; her maiden name was Maynel and she was the wife (or possibly mistress) of Colonel Thomas Thornton – who was keen on horses, sport and gambling….
Alicia challenged her brother-in-law, Captain Flint, to a horse race…. Thornton, sensing a good bit of sport, offered her his racehorse, Vinigrillo and placed a bet on her to win….
The race took place at what is now York racecourse, in front of a crowd of what is believed to be around 100,000 – and was for a prize of 500 guineas…. Although Alicia’s horse led for the first three miles she eventually lost the race to Flint…. However, she won the hearts of the crowd for her pluck, attire and demeanour…. Thornton earned himself a horse whipping from Flint as he refused to honour the bet….
The following year, at the same York meeting, Alicia rode against Frank Buckle, known to British horse racing followers of the time as ‘The Governor’…. He was legendary; this time Alicia won….
In 1806 she ran off with a soldier….