Helen Johnson Houghton dies

Former trainer Helen Johnson Houghton died on Tuesday night at the age of 102.

Although not officially in the record books, Johnson Houghton was the first female trainer to win an English Classic when 50-1 chance Gilles De Retz took the 2000 Guineas in 1956.

Due to Jockey Club restrictions at the time, only men were allowed to hold a training licence so the colt had to run under the name of her assistant, Charles Jerdein.

Johnson Houghton, who was the twin sister of legendary trainer Fulke Walwyn, had taken over the running of the historic Woodway stable in Oxfordshire after the death of her husband, Gordon.

Her son, also Fulke, took over the licence in the 1960s, but Helen was always involved in the operation and even rode out until she was in her 80s.

"She was extraordinary in so many ways, and a pioneer in racing," said her granddaughter Eve Johnson Houghton, who now trains at Woodway.

"She lived to a fair old age, and, although in a way we were expecting it, we're still in shock."

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