Florence Nagle

Florence Nagle was a trainer and breeder of racehorses and pedigree dogs. She was one of the first women in Berkshire to hold a driving licence. Nagle trained her first racehorse in 1920, the Irish-bred colt Fernley. She sponsored the Florence Nagle Girl Apprentices’ Handicap first run in 1986.

About Florence Nagle in brief

Summary Florence NagleFlorence Nagle was a trainer and breeder of racehorses and pedigree dogs. She was one of the first women in Berkshire to hold a driving licence. Nagle trained her first racehorse in 1920, the Irish-bred colt Fernley. The male dog who was a linchpin in the 1970s revival of the Irish Red and White Setter breed was descended from one of Nagle’s Irish Setters. She sponsored the Florence Nagle Girl Apprentices’ Handicap first run in 1986 at Kempton Park. She died at her home in West Chiltington, Sussex, two years later at the age of 94, leaving funds in her will for the continuation of the race. She also donated the full cost of £5,000 to purchase a Spitfire for the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. As a child, Nagle had a Pomeranian and a Bulldog, but was promised she could have a larger dog once her schooling was completed. In 1913 she purchased her first Irish Wolfhound, Manin Michael, for £5.5. The dog was registered with the Kennel Club, before it was transferred to Mr and Mrs James Nagle, and Mrs Nagle changed its name to Mrs Michael in May 1917 during the First World War during food shortages. The couple had two children, a son, David, and a daughter, Patricia. The marriage was not a success, and her husband ran off with one the kennel maids. The divorce took place in 1928, five years before her husband’s death. In 1932, in 1942, she purchased Petlands, a canteen farm in Petworth, West Sussex, so she could personally oversee the stables.

She managed the canteen for the ARP for the duration of World War II, during which time she managed a full Royal Airforce Air Force Air Force Spitfire named Sulhamstead Merman. In the 1950s and 1960s she was described as ‘the Mrs. Pankhurst of British horse racing’. In 1966 she became one of two women in the United Kingdom licensed to train raceh horses. She owned or breed twenty-one United Kingdom Champions, and competed successfully in field trials from the 1920s until the mid-1960s resulting in eighteen Field Trial Champions. She worked peacefully to redress such injustices to her sex. She successfully challenged the well-established leading gentlemen’s clubs of the racing and canine worlds over their gender inequality, and in 1966 she was awarded a Jockey Club trainers licence. Her husband James was a native of Ireland who had emigrated to Canada but returned to serve with the King’s Royal Rifle Corps and then had been sent to Sulhamsted Abbots to recuperate. Against her parents’ wishes the couple were married on 1 July 1916, resulting in them threatening to disinherit her. Her education was completed at a finishing school after which she spent some time in Paris, where she became friends with Megan Lloyd George.