The tragic death earlier this year of Lorna Brooke left a big void in the amateur ranks and had a major impact in the closely knit weighing rooms at Point-to-Point and National Hunt courses along the Welsh Borders where she had accumulated so many friends and colleagues over the last 20 years.
A chance meeting between Judith Healey, Nickie Sheppard and Lorna’s father Alistair during the celebration of her life at Ludlow Racecourse in late May led to the creation of a series of Ladies Races culminating in a Final at the Albrighton & Woodland (South) fixture at Chaddesley Corbett on Thursday 2nd June.
All the events will be held in the newly established West Mercian Area, where every Ladies Open will carry the title The Lorna Brooke Memorial Qualifying Race, with Lorna’s family putting up the prize money for the Final and Mementoes. Entrance to the final is open to ANY horse that started in these qualifying events, and it is hoped they will keep Lorna’s memory at the fore front of our minds.
Harkaway Club Ladies Open on Tuesday 28th December 2021
Albrighton & Woodland (North) Ladies Open on Sunday 20th February 2022
Sir W W Wynn’s & Flint & Denbigh Ladies Conditions on Sunday 13th March 2022
Croome & West Warwickshire Ladies Open on Saturday 19th March 2022
Cotswold Ladies Open and Ladies Conditions on Sunday 3rd April 2022
Cotswold Vale Farmers Ladies Open on Sunday 10th April 2022
Worcestershire Ladies Open on Saturday 16th April
North Shropshire Ladies Open on Monday 18th April
Berkeley Ladies Conditions (Level 1) on Saturday 23rd April
Final – Albrighton & Woodland (South) on Thursday 2nd June.
Brooke had her first Point-to-Point ride on Highway Five who finished fourth in the North Herefordshire Ladies Open at Whitwick Manor in February 2000. Iain McKenzie who is not known for throwing compliments around like confetti later wrote “Ridden with great pluck and no little skill by Lorna Brooke who looked very tidy in her first season”.
She rode her first winner on Hag’s Way in a Novice Riders race at the P.P.O.R.A. meeting at Barbury Racecourse in January 2002 and also won three races later in the season, two wins on Joshua’s Vision and another win on the aforementioned Hag’s Way at Garnons. This resulted in her winning that years prestigious Princess Royal Trophy and she also won the Welsh Borders Ladies Title on at least 7 occasions.
Although based in Powys and riding horses prepared at home by her mother Sue, Brooke provided Phil Rowley with his first success under Rules when The General Lee won a Ludlow Hunter Chase in March 2011. Brooke won seven races on Judith Healey’s and Jim Squires horse, which explains Judith’s involvement with this new Championship.
Lorna also rode in many races abroad and represented her country on numerous occasions. This started in 2010 when she represented at GB team who rode in the Anglo/Irish lady jockeys’ challenge at Limerick.
Lorna finished second but when the return match was held at Newton Abbot a year later Lorna rode her first winner over hurdles with Grand National winning jockey Rachael Blackmore finishing 3rd.Lorna also rode on the flat and in Arab Races as Sarah Oliver, Chief Executive of the Amateur Jockeys Association explained “She represented GB in Arabian racing, riding both in Bahrain and Poland and Abu Dhabi. She also represented GB riding in Mauritius in 2018 and 2019 and as part of a GB Ladies Team on the Flat in Germany.”