Tributes as Aintree remembers Rose Paterson with race in her memory

As Aintree hosts its first ever race in memory of former chairman Rose Paterson, emotional tributes have described her as an "extraordinary person".

Rose Paterson, the wife of MP Owen Paterson, had cemented her position as one of the most important figures in horse racing
Rose Paterson, the wife of MP Owen Paterson, had cemented her position as one of the most important figures in horse racing

Mrs Paterson, wife of North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson, had cemented her position as one of the most important figures in horse racing when she took her own life in June last year.

She had become chairman of Aintree Racecourse in 2014, putting her in charge of the world's most famous horse race, and was appointed to the Jockey Club's board of stewards in 2019.

Runners and riders during The Goffs UK Nickel Coin Mares' Standard Open NH Flat Race at Aintree Racecourse, Liverpool. Pic: Alan Crowhurst/PA Wire

As the three day Grand National Festival opened today, the first ever Rose Paterson Randox Foxhunters' Open hunters' Chase was also taking place.

It comes ahead of the launch of the Rose Paterson Trust, at the festival on Saturday.

The trust will work support to organisations and individuals trying to prevent, and raise awareness of suicide.

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As the festival opened both racehorse owner Trevor Hemmings, who is seeking a record fourth Grand National winner on Saturday, and Mrs Paterson's successor as chairman, Nicholas Wrigley, paid emotional tributes.

Mr Hemmings said: "Rose Paterson was such a lovely person and it is hard to believe that she is no longer part of Aintree in today's world.

"She will always be part of Aintree as far as I am concerned and many other people will feel the same. She was so nice, so level headed and never missed anyone out – whether they be young or old rich or poor. She was a super lady and one we will miss very much. I am so sorry for the Paterson family."

Editeur Du Gite ridden by jockey Joshua Moore clear a fence on their way to winning the Close Brothers Red Rum Handicap Chase during Liverpool NHS Day of the 2021 Randox Health Grand National Festival at Aintree Racecourse, Liverpool. Pic: David Davies/PA Wire for the Jockey Club

Mr Wrigley said her work with the racecourse's charities had been tireless.

He said: "Rose's role was amazing and all encompassing. I think it was remarkable for those that could see it, but many could not see the totality of it. She was excellent with staff, whether they be full-time, part time, or just there on the big day. She was also excellent with the owners, trainers, and stable staff – she had a wonderful manner and was loved by everybody.

"Her enthusiasm and interests went much wider than that however. Horse welfare was very important to her and she was a key part of the team maintaining horse welfare and improving it all the time.

A general view of runners and riders during the Goffs UK Nickel Coin Mares' Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race during Liverpool NHS Day of the 2021 Randox Health Grand National Festival at Aintree Racecourse, Liverpool. Pic: David Davies/PA Wire for the Jockey Club

"Her work with our charitable partners was tireless. Whether that be Park Palace Ponies, whose ponies she looked after during the first Covid lockdown, Alder Hey Children's Hospital, Everton in the Community or local schools – it was all part of her work and she worked tirelessly.

"The other thing we all saw was the love that she had for Owen and her children. That was very important to her and she had great pride in their achievements, which makes it all so sad. From the perspective of everyone on the committee, we shall miss Rose and racing will never be the same without her."

Dr Peter Fitzgerald, managing director of Grand National sponsor, Randox, added: "She was an extraordinary person who always believed in doing good and always wanted to help people."

  • If you have been affected by this article, Samaritans can be contacted for free on 116 123.

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