The Honourable Dorothy Paget, who died from heart failure, at the age of 54, in 1960, had many claims to fame, not least that she was, at one time, the richest unmarried woman in England. However, from a Cheltenham Festival perspective, she owned seven winners of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, making her the leading owner in the history of the ‘Blue Riband’ event, and four winners of the Champion Hurdle.
In 1931, Paget was persuaded by trainer Basil Briscoe to purchase two geldings, Golden Miller and Insurance, for a reputed £12,000 – over £800,000 by modern standards – from the late Philip Carr. The money proved well spent, with Golden Miller winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup five years running between 1932 and 1936 and Insurance winning the Champion Hurdle in both 1932 and 1933. In 1934, as a seven-year-old, ‘The Miller’ also won the Grand National and remains the only horse to have won the two premier steeplechases in the British National Hunt calendar in the same season.
In 1940, Paget completed the Champion Hurdle – Cheltenham Gold Cup double, courtesy of Solford and Roman Hackle, both of whom were trained by Owen Anthony. In 1946, she won the Champion Hurdle again, with Distel, trained by Charles Rogers and, in 1952, her seventh and final Cheltenham Gold Cup with Mont Tremblant, trained by Fulke Walwyn. Walwyn saddled no fewer than 365 winners for Paget, but even he found the eccentric, richly difficult heiress ‘so trying’; on one famous occasion, after Walwyn had sent out Paget-owned horses to win the first five races on a six-race card at Folkestonem, Paget abused the revered trainer for failing to win the sixth race.