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Cheltenham Festival jockeys - Top four female jockeys who could ride a Festival winner

Bryony Frost and Bridget Andrews could get amongst the Cheltenham Festival winners.

We put four of the top female jockeys under the microscope and assess their chances of riding a Cheltenham Festival winner.

With the Cheltenham Festival only a few short weeks away, punters are already planning their bankers ahead of four fantastic days’ horse racing action; but it isn’t only the horses themselves that people are able to place a wager on, and there are plenty of special bets that can capture punters’ interest.

From top Festival jockey and trainer through to betting on who will will win the Prestbury Cup between the UK and Ireland in an always fiercely contested spectacle, there is plenty of betting specials to consider that can keep punters’ interests firmly fixed on the greatest show on turf from tapes up for the opening Supreme Novices’ Hurdle through to the weighed in klaxon after the closing Grand Annual Chase.

While much of the attention on the top jockey market generally centres on the same few names - Ruby Walsh, Barry Geraghty, Nico de Boinville, Davy Russell and Richard Johnson - there are a few others to consider with the likes of Paul Townend and Jack Kennedy likely to have ample opportunities to ride a winner or two throughout the four days.

In recent years however, several of the biggest female names in the game have also made their mark on Cheltenham with both Katie Walsh and Nina Carberry setting the bar for those to follow in their footsteps. And Brian Healy looks at the chances of four of the biggest female names in the saddle and assesses their chances of riding a Cheltenham Festival winner.

BRYONY FROST


Arguably the most high profile female rider at the moment, Bryony Frost’s star continues to shine bright largely through her affiliation with Paul Nicholls’ Frodon with whom she has struck up a real rapport.

The seven-year old Nickname gelding continues to go from strength to strength having burst onto the scene as a novice a couple of seasons back, and the bold jumping front-runner has collected in three of his four starts this campaign which includes the recent Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham - a track where he has won four times over fences.

Despite carrying odds of around 25/1 into the Gold Cup, it isn’t hard to see why he could be considered a possible dark horse for Blue Riband glory, and while Frost - daughter of Cheltenham Festival-winning rider Jimmy - has yet to find herself back the winners’ enclosure at the Festival since she steered Pacha Du Polder to Foxhunters success in 2017, she could well be one to keep an eye on this year.

Besides Frodon, she could well retain her partnership with another Nicholls stalwart in Old Guard, with the pair having built up a good understanding; while the likes of Present Man - another to benefit from Frost’s fearless riding - may well be another string to her bow.

Frost has also ridded Lil Rockerfeller in the recent Cleeve Hurdle for Neil King, and she could well keep that partnership intact; and having been used by the likes of Ben Pauling, Mick Channon and others this term, Frost is unlikely to be found wanting for opportunities given she’ll have the leg up on a few of the Nicholls team at Cheltenham.

Bryony Frost could hold the strongest claims amongst the girls of riding a winner at Cheltenham.



RACHAEL BLACKMORE


Irishwoman Blackmore has taken over the mantle vacated by both Katie Walsh and Nina Carberry as Ireland’s premier female Irish rider, and the Tipperary-born jockey has certainly grabbed her chance with high-profile associations with Gordon Elliott, Willie Mullins and Henry de Bromhead.

She already has a litany of big wins to her name, riding winners of top Irish races such as the Irish Daily Star Chase, WKD Hurdle and the Leinster National amongst others. 

Recently Blackmore partnered the exciting Honeysuckle, trained by Henry de Bromhead, to success in the Grade Three Solerina Hurdle at Fairyhouse which saw her leap to favouritism for the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, and she is 2-2 on Iain Jardine’s Bedrock who could turn out in the Champion Hurdle.

Add in the likes of A Plus Tard, Sub Lieutenant, Balko Des Flos, Cuneo, Ellie Mac and Supreme Vinnie who could all feature at the Cheltenham Festival and possibly be partnered by Blackmore then seeing her in the winners’ enclosure at some point during the Festival wouldn’t come as a surprise.

Arguably one of the best jockeys in Ireland, Rachael Blackmore could ride a Cheltenham Festival winner.


LIZZIE KELLY


Unlike Blackmore - to date at least - Lizzie Kelly has matched the achievement of Bryony Frost to taste Cheltenham Festival success when she steered Coo Star Sivola to claim the Ultima Handicap during the 2018 Festival.

However, unlike the aforementioned pair, Kelly rarely rides outwith the confines of her own family which may limit her scope somewhat as a possible Festival winning rider in 2019. 

But while stable stalwart Tea For Two has looked a shadow of himself this term, the emergence of Siruh Du Lac as a possible Ultima contender was boosted when the pair combined to win during Cheltenham’s Festival Trials Day, and he looks a live contender for that valuable handicap.

Coo Star Sivola could also feature at Cheltenham in some capacity, and it would be difficult for Kelly to choose between her old partner and the up-and-coming Siruh Du Lac if both were to pitch into the Ultima Picture; while Agrapart, Monsieur Lecoq, Culture De Sivola and old favourite Tea For Two could all be partnered at the Festival by Kelly.

Lizzie Kelly steered Coo Star Sivola to Cheltenham Festival success twelve months ago.


BRIDGET ANDREWS


Bridget Andrews has also tasted Cheltenham Festival success, riding Mohaayed to success in the County Hurdle, following her elder sister Gina Andrews into the Festival history books, with the latter having ridden the winner of the previous season’s Kim Muir Chase.

Part of the hugely successful Dan Skelton operation, Andrews’ options may be limited with trainer’s brother Harry likely to pick up the bulk of Team Ske;ton’s Festival runners. 

But as she showed when claiming County Hurdle glory that she can get the job done when put on the right horses, and she is likely to feature in a few of the big field handicap hurdles with potential rides in the County Hurdle and Pertemps Final amongst others; while still a registered conditional she could also feature in the Martin Pipe Hurdle and some of the big-field chases such as the Ultima Handicap Chase and Brown Advisory Plate.

Possible partnerships for Andrews could see her team up again with Mohaayed, as well as the likes of Virgilio, Marracudja, Ange Des Malberaux and Bennys King across the four days. Although possibly less likely to gain the attention of Frost, Blackmore or Kelly, she is no less capable of riding a winner.

Bridget Andrews (purple jacket) steers Mohaayed to County Hurdle victory during the 2018 Cheltenham Festival.



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Cheltenham Festival jockeys - Top four female jockeys who could ride a Festival winner

We put four of the top female jockeys under the microscope and assess their chances of riding a Cheltenham Festival winner.

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