Bryony Frost led the way on a special day for women at the Cheltenham Festival riding the Paul Nicholls-trained Frodon to victory in the Ryanair Chase
London (AFP) - Bryony Frost and Lizzie Kelly produced stunning front-running rides to land valuable prizes on a memorable emotion-packed third day of the Cheltenham Festival on Thursday.
Frost made history in becoming the first woman jockey to win a Grade One race at the Festival with the valiant Paul Nicholls-trained Frodon in the Ryanair Chase whilst Kelly won the Grade Three Handicap Chase on Siruh du Lac, trained by her stepfather Nick Williams.
Women trainers were not to be denied either as Emma Lavelle welcomed home tough as teak Paisley Park, named after the late rock legend Prince’s estate by blind owner Andrew Gemmell, in the World Hurdle.
Paisley Park’s jockey Aidan Coleman first thoughts on crossing the line only added to the emotions swirling across the track.
“The strange thing is when I crossed the line my best friend Campbell Gillies had his best day a few years ago (he won the Albert Bartlett Hurdle in 2012),” he told broadcaster ITV.
“Although he died (he drowned in a swimming pool in Greece in 2012) he is always in our hearts…those thoughts came from nowhere,” added the Irishman with his voice trembling.
- ‘It’s a young man’s game’ -
Earlier there were tears of joy when the exuberant 23-year-old Frost – watched by her two brothers and her parents including father 1989 Grand National winning jockey Jimmy – simply would not be denied on the resilient Frodon.
“He is Pegasus. He is such a battler and he is such a jumper,” Frost told ITV.
“He got overtaken and he just grabbed me by my hands and said ‘don’t you let me go, don’t you dare not let me have my chance, let me race’.
“Sometimes fairytales come true and Frodon is my heart,” added Frost.
Whilst Frost could look forward to a 10% cut of the almost £200,000 ($266,000) first prize money Frodon had a different prize awaiting him.
“He will deserve every single high five, polo mint, pat and carrot,” said Frost.
Veteran Irish jockey Barry Geraghty showed he is still as good a horseman as ever with a double at the Festival
The afternoon had started with veteran Irish jockey Barry Geraghty showing he is as sharp as ever at 39 winning the first two races with Defi du Seuil in the JLT Novices Chase and Sire du Berlais in the Handicap Hurdle.
For Defi du Seuil and trainer Philip Hobbs it was a second time he has heard the raucous roar round the winners enclosure at the Festival having won the Triumph Hurdle two years ago.
Geraghty’s children would have been forgiven for having their minds taken off their lessons at school.
“Lord these feel as good as my first winner,” said Geraghty, who took his tally to 38.
“My children were allowed to have a television in their class room and I hope they stayed tuned for both the races!” grinned Geraghty.
Whilst he has no plans to retire yet, another Irish veteran Noel Fehily will hang up his boots soon.
Fehily – whose best year at the Festival was 2017 winning both the Champion Hurdle and the Queen Mother Champion Chase – made the announcement in the perfect way after riding Willie Mullins’s Eglantine du Seuil to victory in the Mares Novices Hurdle.
“It’s a young man’s game, you can’t go on forever,” he told BBC Radio.
“I will be 44 this year, I’ve had a great time, loved every minute of it and I’ll miss it like hell.
“I could go on but I was very ill in January and February (he had his appendix removed) and it didn’t look like I would make the festival for a while.
“So to come here and ride a winner seems like the perfect ending.”