Lady riders have been hitting the headlines in the UK on a regular basis in recent months — for all the right reasons — led by two graduates from the pointing field, Lizzie Kelly and Bryony Frost.
It’s a subject which is close to my heart and I did my bit to raise the profile of lady riders during my six years coordinating the AGA-sponsored lady riders’ point-to-point series. I remain passionate about seeing them succeed.
I crossed paths with both Lizzie and Bryony during the AGA years, as they both enjoyed victories in that series, and I was thrilled when Bryony led home a one-two for the girls in the 2017 Foxhunter at Cheltenham on Pacha Du Polder.
She then went on to finish fourth on the same horse in the Aintree version and she has now become a rising star of the weighing room.
Lizzie led the way by becoming the first female jockey to win a Grade One jumps race in Britain (at Kempton in 2015) and Bryony has followed suit, bagging her first Grade One win last year — in the exact same race as Lizzie.
With the spotlight firmly on the girls I would hope that more of them will get the chance to shine in the 2018 Foxhunters. Last season there were four jocked up in the Cheltenham version and five at Aintree. All deserved their place in the line-up, although there was one glaring omission from both races.
I wasn’t the only person who was astonished that the current and four-time national ladies’ point-to-point champion, Gina Andrews did not feature. Gina won the Kim Muir at last year’s Festival and may well repeat the feat this year — let’s hope she also gets the chance to shine in the two flagship races for our amateur riders.
A recent article in the Racing Post suggested that we could see a female champion jockey within the next five years and, with plenty of talent coming through the pointing ranks, I don’t see why this can’t happen — I certainly hope it does.
Ref Horse & Hound; 8 February 2018