Retired lady jockey Alex Greaves was married to the late David ‘Dandy’ Nicholls, a renowned racehorse trainer, but has several claims to fame in her own right. Dubbed the ‘Queen of the Sands’ by the racing press after a raft of early successes on the all-weather tracks, which were newly laid in the late Eighties, Greaves proved anything but a ‘one-trick pony’.
In 1991, Greaves became the first female apprentice – and still one of only a handful – to achieve 95 winners and thereby ride out her apprentice claim. In 1996, as a full-fledged professional, she became the first female jockey to ride in the Derby, albeit finishing last of the twenty runners on rank outsider Portuguese Lil, trained by her husband. In 1997, she also became the first female jockey to ride a Group One winner in Britain; in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York, she delivered Ya Malak, again trained by her husband, to dead-heat with Coastal Bluff, whose bit had broken with a furlong to run. On her retirement from race riding, in March 2005, Alex Greaves had ridden a total of 287 winners.