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Bryony Frost seals landmark win on Frodon in epic Ryanair Chase

‘He grabbed me by the hands and said don’t you dare give up.’

Bryony Frost celebrates victory in the Ryanair Chase aboard Frodon.
Bryony Frost celebrates victory in the Ryanair Chase aboard Frodon.
Image: Nigel French

BRYONY FROST MADE racing history today as she became the first woman jockey to ride a Grade One winner over obstacles at the Cheltenham Festival on Frodon in the Ryanair Chase.

The 23-year-old — whose parents and two brothers were present — has been knocking at the door for the big prizes in the past couple of years and formed a symbiotic partnership with the doughty Paul Nicholls-trained winner.

Frodon and Frost found extra reserves when they looked about to be swamped entering the finishing straight, and even at the last it was Aso, ridden by Charlie Deutsch, who looked to be the likeliest winner.

Frost, though, once again did not find Frodon wanting in terms of courage and he battled back up the hill to overhaul Deutsch and Aso to take the winning prize worth almost £200,000 (€234,800).

Frost fist-pumped as she crossed the line and then the tears came while legendary Irish jockey Ruby Walsh, who had finished down the field on Footpad, came over and shook her hand.

“He is Pegasus. He is such a battler and he is such a jumper,” Frost told broadcaster 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’.

“He was superb, I love him. He has made my dream come true to win here, he is incredible. I’m so thankful to him. He deserves all the treats coming his way. It is so special for me, my family and this amazing horse. I love you mate, I love you.”

Frost, who rode a winner at the Festival in 2017 when she was an amateur on Nicholls’s Pacha du Polder in the Foxhunter Chase, said Frodon was her inspiration.  

“Sometimes fairytales come true and Frodon is my heart,” said Frost.

“This is the reason I wake up at four in the morning — to be partnered with someone like him.”

Nicholls, a 10-time champion trainer, was jumping around the saddling enclosure like a teenager instead of a man of 56.

“That was awesome and I’ve lost my voice. Just a very, very special day,” he said.

Her family walked proudly into the winners’ enclosure — one of her brothers Hadden had flown back from the United States.

“Incredible, so proud of her. She and the horse did not miss a beat out there,” said Jimmy Frost, who gave his daughter her first professional ride in 2017.

“We walked the course this morning together and she took it all in as was clear as she showed in the race.”

Frodon can expect a treat or two when he returns to his stables in the southwest of England.

“He will deserve every single high five, polo mint, pat and carrot,” said Bryony Frost.

© – AFP 2018

– Updated 19.05: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Bryony Frost was the first woman to win a Grade 1 race at the Cheltenham Festival; she is the first to win a Grade 1 race over obstacles (Katie Walsh, Champion Bumper, 2018).

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