by Alex Dudley
LONDON – SPORTS In what concerns equality in sports, horse racing might be one of the sports who have women on active roles since the early beginning of XX century. In the Kentucky Derby, that happens again on the 4th of May this year, women have taken part since 1904. However, only 6 women have competed in the ‘Run of Roses’ and none has won yet.
Meanwhile, in the UK there is a woman who is starting to get on par with the big names of the competition: Bryony Frost. Horse racing has always been in the blood for Frost. After all, her father was the winning jockeyin the 1989 Grand National, as he rode Little Polvier to remarkable success at Aintree. However, his daughter is already showing signs of matching and taking the sport into a new stratosphere.
The whole of the United Kingdom fell in love with Bryony Frost during the 2019 Cheltenham Festival, as she roared home onboard Frodon to win the Ryanair Chase; in doing so, she became the first ever female to win a Grade One race at the festival. The warning signs for this potential dominance have been clear for all to see since she turned professional in late 2017.
Her last winner as an amateur came when she was onboard Pacha Du Polder in the Foxhunter Chase at the 2017 Cheltenham Festival. She began the 2017-18 jump season as a professional, and almost replicated her dad’s achievement of Grand National success.
Milansbar had begun to look jaded prior to his run in the Classic Chase in January 2018. However, the decision for a change in headgear and the jockey change turned out to be the most significant turning points. Frost and Milansbar had an immediate connection, as she led win to a comprehensive win at Warwick. His best performance of the season was still to come.
He performed brilliantly to finish fifth in the Grand National, and that was largely down to the tactical awareness of Frost in the race. In truth, the horse possibly wasn’t good enough to place in the featured race of the jump season. However, the impact and skill of Frost enabled the 11-year-old to compete.
In November 2018, Frost secured her 75th win; making her only the second female to achieve that feat. A bright future is already assured for the 26-year-old. However, the 2018-19 season was the coming of age season that has put her on the map.
One of the horses with whom she is most associated with is Black Corton. The eight-year-old led Frost to eight consecutive wins which unfortunately came to an end at the Cheltenham festival in 2018. However, due to his age and the skill of both jockey and horse then it is likely that the Paul Nicholls horse will come back once again next season in fine form.
He endured a disappointing 2018-19 season and finished second of four occasions under Frost. Furthermore, he, unfortunately, missed out on the Cheltenham and Aintree festivals this season, but make no mistake about it, he will be back next year under the stewardship of Frost.
The horse which will forever be etched into the history books alongside Frost’s name is Frodon, following their relationship which blossomed during the 2019 Cheltenham festival. While Frodon might be one of the most straightforward and toughest horses in training, he entered the race as an outside bet in the horse racing markets for the Ryanair Chase.
The aggressive riding that Frost used in the race is by no means a bad thing, as it was a hallmark trait of well-renowned jockeys such as AP McCoy, Richard Johnson, and Frankie Dettori. It is widely perceived that the achievement of leading the seven-year-old to Ryanair Chase was among the best performances from a jockey in the whole of the racing season. The moment after the race when ITV Racing interviewed her was when Frost’s character came out in blossoming fashion. The love that she had for the horse and the desire that she has to become the best grabbed the hearts of everybody watching and made thatafternoon at Cheltenham among the best in recent memory.
Conclusion of 2018-19 season
As is the life of a jockey, this enormous high was followed by a severe low when she sustained an injury that would keep her out of the 2019 Grand National. She was heavily expected to be among the front runners in that race, and it does seem it’s only a matter of time before she rewrites the history books again, and becomes the first female jockey to win the illustrious race.
However, the Grand Nationals loss was almost certainly ITV’s gain, as she was a prominent fixture on the coverage for the Aintree festival, and she came across as knowledgeable, and the transition she made from the track to the screen certainly increased viewing figures as people wanted to hear more from here. She seamlessly slotted in next to legends of the sport in Brough Scott and McCoy, while also holding her own and battling her corner with her point of view.
Frost will continue to take the sport to new levels, and she has been a breath of fresh air thus far. She will continue to bring a broader audience to the sport, and encourage more young girls that a career in racing is possible, as it is no longer a male dominant field.