Bryony Frost helps Frodon fight off challenge from Aso to win a dramatic Ryanair Chase and becomes the first Grade 1 female-winning rider at Cheltenham
It was Ladies’ Day at Cheltenham on Thursday — 24 hours after the real thing — as Bryony Frost became the first female jockey to win a Grade One race over jumps at the showpiece meeting.
And only an hour after she and Frodon had been roared into the winner’s enclosure following their stunning Ryanair Chase victory, Lizzie Kelly echoed her brave front-running performance to win the fifth race on Siruh Du Lac.
Frost, whose father Jimmy won the Grand National in 1989, had said ahead of the race that the Paul Nicholls-trained Frodon was her fairytale horse.
Bryony Frost became the first woman to ride a Grade One winner with victory on Thursday
FULL RACE RESULT
1st Frodon (Bryony Frost) 9-2
2nd Aso (Charlie Deutsch) 33-1
3rd Road To Respect (S W Flanagan) 9-2
That fairytale became an emotional reality for the 23-year-old, who has become the darling of National Hunt racing with her gushing victory speeches.
Her reaction to win No 101 was no different, as the tears flowed and she pointed at her horse for him to take the credit.
‘He’s Pegasus, he’s got wings,’ she said in a breathless interview. ‘He’s the most incredible battler! He travelled, my God he jumped, and the moment he got overtaken two out, most horses would have quit.
Frodon clinched victory at the Ryanair Chase after fighting off Aso at Cheltenham
‘He grabbed me by the hands and said, “Don’t you dare give up”. He’s unbelievable. He deserves every single high-five, pat and carrot. We have climbed a mountain to get to this. It’s incredible and I’ll enjoy every minute of it.’
Frost, who is based at Nicholls’ yard, rode her 100th winner on Monday and had won once at the Festival before, on Pacha du Polder in the Foxhunter Chase in 2017. Yet this was a victory of the highest order and etched her name in the history books.
However, it took her until lifting the trophy to realise that she was the first female jockey to win a Grade One over jumps at the Festival.
‘It’s pretty cool, eh?’ she said. ‘But I keep stressing, this is not just me here. There is no way you can paddle this racing canoe by yourself. You have to have people helping you get up the stream because, to be fair, in the racing world for jockeys the current is against you.’
Nicholls, whose shouts of ‘Go On B’ rang round the paddock as Frodon was challenged by Aso and Road To Respect, said: ‘That is one of the best days ever.’
Meanwhile, Jimmy Frost described his daughter as ‘hundreds better’ than he had been, adding: ‘You can’t be any more proud, top of the tree.’
After the success of Rachael Blackmore, who is vying for the Irish Jockeys’ Championship, on Tuesday, Frost and Kelly added to the winning feeling in the ladies’ weighing room. Kelly, who rode a winner at last year’s Festival, produced an impressive display from the front to land the Brown Advisory and Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase on Siruh Du Lac. She said afterwards: ‘I could get used to this.’
Kelly added: ‘I grew up with people laughing at me when I said I wanted to be a jockey. That gives you a chip on your shoulder and you’ve got something to prove.’