alexa Frost becomes first woman to win top event at Cheltenham - Daily Nation

Frost becomes first woman to win top event at Cheltenham

Friday March 15 2019

 Bryony Frost and Frodon Cheltenham

Bryony Frost (left) and Frodon. PHOTO | TWITTER 

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Bryony Frost, with an ecstatic triple fist-pump as she crossed the line, made history on an emotionally charged Thursday when, Frodon won the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham.

Frodon is another Pegasus with wings. Bryony became the first woman to ride a Grade One winner over these fences.

The versatile female athlete was emphatic that Frodon refused to quit, even as two horses passed the extra diminutive chaser, close to home.

It was here, in 2017, that a 21-year-old Frost made bold headlines, winning the Foxhunter Chase on Pacha Du Polder as an amateur.


Her partnership with Frodon is an indicator of the way her career has escalated; he was supposed to be someone else’s seat, but she happened to ride him in a particular race, did well and was engaged for the next occasion.

This is how jockeying for positioning must be done if, like Frost, you are working for a big stable among more senior entities. She has seized every knocking opportunity, winning major races at regular intervals.

Jockeys often say the first taste of glory in this hectic environment is fleeting and only a second one can really be savoured.

Frost has been looking forward to this Festival since she and Frodon won here in January, and she milked the chance from her well-chosen words straight afterwards through her triumphal return past the stands, to family euphoria, in the enclosure.


Among those greeting her, was her father, Jimmy, whose own riding career included a Champion Hurdle in 1991. “This is incredible,” said the man to whom Frost still turns for guidance every day. “I’m so proud of her. I don’t think they missed a beat out there, did they? We walked the course earlier, and she just rode it absolutely to the minute letter, and, second.”

Is she as good as you were, he was asked. Frost has certainly not had a career yet to match her father’s, considering he won a Grand National, too.

Still, he replied: “Oh, hundreds better. Both the children are better than me,” gesturing to his son, Hadden, who rode his own striker in 2010. He flew back from his job riding in the US, to cheer on his sister.


Four different women rode winners at the last Festival and this is going in the same direction. Lizzy Kelly scored an hour after Frost (“I watched Bryony and thought, that was my gameplan!”), while Rachael Blackmore had her moment here on Tuesday.

There is no parity in the weighing room, since men scoop mostly lion's share, but women are evidently able to muscle their way in, which could not happen way back when.

For as long as Frost is doing things that have never been done before, it seems valid that there is another generation of ladies sifting inspiration from her deeds, as well as those of Nina Carberry, Katie Walsh and others.


Frost, like Blackmore, could not be more clear that she does not want to be defined by chromosomes. “If I was a boy, it would be no different, in every department."

And there is no danger of anything going to her head, as she promised to be in bed by 9.30pm, ready for an uncouth shift at Paul Nicholls’ Somerset stable.

“That’s one of the best days ever,” said the trainer, who, perhaps crucially, took Frodon to Wincanton for a gallop last Friday to sharpen him up.

Nicholls has now had two Grade One wins here this week and hopes to make it three, with Clan Des Obeaux, in Friday’s Gold Cup.