The daughter of a British Army officer who settled in Ireland, Janet Elliot came to the United States after her plans fell through to accompany an Irish horse show to the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. Once she arrived in America, Elliot took a job with horsewoman Betty Bird.
Elliot soon went to work for future Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard, whom she stayed with as an assistant for 11 years before going out on her own in 1979.
Through the 1980’s she developed a reputation as an outstanding horsewoman and her skills were employed by many top owners. In 1991, Elliot succeeded Sheppard as the leading trainer of steeple-chasers in the nation (in purse earnings), ending an 18-year reign by her former boss. She also led the nation in steeplechase victories that year.
Ms. Elliot again topped the money list for steeplechase trainers in 1998 and has ranked second or third 11 times. Through 2012, jumpers trained by Elliot won three Eclipse Awards as champions — CORREGGIO in 1996 and FLAT TOP in 1998 and 2002. CORREGGIO and FLAT TOP accounted for three of Elliot’s five victories in the Colonial Cup, which she also won with VICTORIAN HILL and DECLARE YOUR WISH.
She won the inaugural running of the Breeders’ Cup Steeplechase in 1986 with CENSUS and again with FLAT TOP in 2002. Among Elliot’s other major steeplechase victories are five wins in the Iroquois, four in the Temple Gwathmey, three in the American Grand National and two in the New York Turf Writers Cup. In 1991, her entrants DECLARE YOUR WISH and DOUBLE BARREL finished in a dead heat for first in the Grand National.
Through August 2016, Elliot ranked fourth on the all-time steeple-chase earnings list with $7,927,745 and owned 465 career wins.
In 2009, Janet Elliot became the first female trainer inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame.