#InternationalWomensDay: Meet the female jockeys flying the flag for the ladies at the Cheltenham Festival

Three leading British lady jockeys have come together to celebrate International Women’s Day (today, 8 March) ahead of the Cheltenham Festival next week.

Last year’s Festival saw a new record set for lady jockeys, with four women riding winners during the most fiercely contested week in the jump racing calendar.

Three of those winning jockeys, still currently riding, Lizzie Kelly, Bridget Andrews and Harriet Tucker will be heading back to the Festival in a bid to bring home some more great results and fly the flag for the ladies.

In the video, created by Great British Racing, the three jockeys embody what it is to be a top athlete, and also what it takes to achieve the extraordinary feat of winning at the Festival — including courage, resilience, determination and ambition.

Lizzie Kelly returned to the Festival last year with something to prove — after falling in the 2017 Gold Cup — and she did just that by winning the Ultima Handicap Chase aboard Coo Star Sivola.

As the first woman to win a Grade One over jumps, Lizzie has witnessed a positive shift in racing and it’s inclusion of females.

“Women in racing are becoming more common now and it’s a huge thing for racing to be able to use the talents that we have,” said Lizzie. “There was a time when Lucy Alexander was the only professional female jockey in the country. The fact that she won the champion conditional title goes to show that she can do it and we can all do it.

“Since then plenty more women have had success and I think we’re in a really good groove at the moment in terms of how women are getting on. We’re in a golden era for women in racing and long may it continue. Hopefully we get even more women coming into the sport.”

Racegoers were treated to jubilant scenes following Bridget Andrew’s success on the Dan Skelton-trained Mohaayed in the County Hurdle last year, as she embraced boyfriend (now fiancé) and fellow jockey Harry Skelton after the winning post.

“After Cheltenham I believed in myself so much more. I had two massive goals last year — one was to ride a Festival winner and one was to ride out my claim, and I’ve done both. That makes me think that actually I can do it.”

Harriet Tucker became an unexpected star of the 2018 Cheltenham Festival when overcoming the pain of a dislocated shoulder sustained during the Foxhunter Chase, steering Pacha Du Polder home to win.

She became the 14th female rider to enjoy success in the history of the meeting and she will be looking to repeat her success again this year.

“If someone said to me ‘women can’t be jockeys’, I’d laugh in their face because women can do it. We’re proving now, we can do it and that we’re equal — doors are opening and more women are coming into the sport.”

With the much-anticipated Cheltenham Festival around the corner, these previous victors will return with hopes of claiming more glory, while Bryony Frost — who won at the Festival in 2017 — is likely to become the third female jockey to ride in the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Rachael Blackmore, who is bidding to become the first female Irish champion jockey, will hope to pick up her first Festival win. Trainer Emma Lavelle heads into next week with the well-fancied Paisley Park in the Sun Racing Stayers’ Hurdle.

Don’t miss  our Cheltenham Festival preview in this week’s issue (7 March), and read our full report from the big meeting in Horse & Hound, on sale Thursday, 21 March.