Florence Rosberg: Remembering the Scottish National heroine

This is a special story as you can only understand it through a childhood memory in Perthshire – Florence was born in Glenelg on her father’s estate, and lived here until early on in her career.

Once a Scottish Grand National contender, she won the famous race in 1988 as a 40-1 chance on Jezki and three years later she won it again on Toormore.

She became the first woman to win the track’s all-weather crown when she won on Paloma Faith and in 1993 she was elected to the World Hurdle Hall of Fame.

Sadly, her career was limited after a high profile fall in 1996 during the Grand National at Aintree and in 2002 the British Horseracing Authority withdrew her from its prestigious Older Drivers’ Championships for her age group.

And even though she was only 29 when she died, her memory remains in the town of Perth where she was born and grew up, and indeed the town of Perthshire where she spent her career racing on the all-weather track at Taddle Creek Park.

This week it is the 27th anniversary of her death in a high-speed crash outside the old Jumbo Castle Shopping Centre in Ayr, on 1 September, 1992.

The class-A3 car she was travelling in had got caught up in a high-speed police chase in the town.

As speedometers indicate on the car’s dashboards, she had been travelling at close to twice the maximum speed limit at the time she was pulled from the mangled wreckage.

From the time of her funeral until her burial at Taddle Creek Cemetery on Monday 21 June, 1993, it was felt it was an appropriate place to lay to rest the 19-time champion.

Jockey Nicky Henderson told Newsquest at the time: “I wish she had died in a race in front of thousands of people, to achieve the fame she deserves.

“But when she lost control at such a speed, it was very quick in both directions, and her car could not stand much damage.

“It would be easy to get on the bandwagon and say something was wrong with the position of the central reservation but to do so would be unfair.”

Undeterred, the Town of Perth placed the clothes of the victim on the potter’s wheel in the town square and then erected the banner reading “Florence Rosberg Ayr (1 September, 1992)”.

In the same town square, from April 6-18, 1999, there was a tribute walk to the heroine of the Ayr Grand National and a selection of her races are also on the annals of the Ayr Municipal Museum.

Some are now less well-known in Perthshire, such as her second victory in 1990, back at Kinross, when she rode five-year-old horse Da’ble into victory on Speakeasy.

The driver of the other car, Alan Duncan, was imprisoned for two years in 1993 after admitting two charges of dangerous driving.

Click here to read more and see photographs of Florence Rosberg’s memory in Perthshire.

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