This year’s Crabbie’s Grand National Festival, one of the most celebrated horseracing fixtures in the world, will also be recognising rugby union. Former England Rugby World Cup winning captain, Maggie Alphonsi MBE will join the Grand Women’s Summit (GWS) panel, which is being co-hosted by Aintree Racecourse and Women in Racing on Ladies Day, Friday 8 April.
Chief Executive of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), Nick Rust will join Maggie on the panel. Nick joined the BHA as Chief Executive in January 2015 following 27 years of senior-level experience in the betting and gaming industry. Shelley Alexander, the BBC’s editorial lead for women's sport, will also join Nick and Maggie. The final panellist will be announced soon. Channel 4 Racing presenters Gina Harding and Tanya Stevenson will co-host the panel discussion.
Following a year where women have achieved some major milestones in horseracing, the 2016 Grand Women’s Summit will celebrate the diverse roles women play in sport. Prominent leaders from sport, horseracing and the media in addition to a range of other fields are expected to attend. Through the panellist’s experience, combined with an interactive delegate discussion, the event will highlight the importance and power of women in sport and the part they play as role models inspiring new people to consider a career in sport either at participation or administration level. Men, women, members of Women in Racing and non-members are all welcome to attend.
Before announcing her international retirement in 2014 Maggie helped England win a record-breaking seven consecutive Six Nations crowns. Most recently she was a crucial member of the team that won the 2014 Rugby World Cup for the first time in 20 years and who were subsequently crowned BBC’s Sports Personality Team of the year. Since retiring she is now a media professional, commentating on live rugby matches for SKY Sports and the BBC, and in 2015 she became the first ever female former player to commentate on men’s international rugby when she was signed up by ITV for the Rugby World Cup.
Maggie commented: “It’s an exciting time for Women’s Sport, with more women participating or engaged than ever. I am delighted to be part of the Grand Women’s Summit and looking forward to discussing the opportunities and challenges facing women in both horseracing and rugby at all levels. I also have not been to the races before and can’t wait to experience one of the best, The Crabbie’s Grand National Festival.”
Nick added: “I believe in gender diversity to help achieve success within any business and wish to gain broad support – from men and women – for women working in horseracing. I am looking forward to being involved with the panel at the Grand Women's Summit and hearing the views of my co-panellists and the event attendees.”