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Record-breaking rider Ann Ferris has died

(Pictured above Ann (centre) is joined by Dorothy Logue and her daughter Gaye Hannan at Moira point-to-point last October).

The death has been announced of the record-breaking rider Ann Ferris. 
Alongside her late sister Rosemary Rooney, the pair were trailblazers in the point-to-point sphere as they followed in the footsteps of their father Willie Rooney, who himself had ridden no fewer than 401 winners in the points sphere.
Riding in an era with significantly fewer fixtures in a season, she rode a total of 94 winners between 1960 and 1984, most notably becoming champion rider in 1976 with a total of 23 winners.
A year later her sister Rosemary tied the national title with Nicky Dee and in the subsequent 45 years that feat by the Rooney sisters in winning the national title has stood the test of time and has not yet been repeated, highlighting the enormity of their achievement.
But it was in 1984 that Ferris created arguably her biggest piece of history when becoming the first female jockey to win the Irish Grand National aboard Bentom Boy, a horse trained by her father Willie, who was also responsible for the third horse on that special day which was ridden by her sister Rosemary.
That was not Ann’s first big-race success on the track having also won the Irish Sweeps Hurdle for Arthur Moore aboard Irian five years earlier in 1979.
Last year Ann appeared in an RTÉ News feature reflected on the achievements of Rachael Blackmore after she had become the first female jockey to win the Aintree equivalent.
“My father had two horses in the race, my sister was third in it," she said looking back on her own piece of national history. "I was quite confident in it that he would win if he got around safely - he was a good jumper. I was happy to win it.”
As part of the feature her daughter Gaye added: “All through my life as a child, I went to point-to-points and it was just what my mummy did. She went out and she won races. I don’t ever remember anything else. It wasn’t an issue about gender or anything else, she just went out and did her job. 
Ann is predeceased by her late husband Harry and is survived by her children Gaye and Billy and the point-to-point community extends its sympathies to her family and friends at this time.


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