When I was a youngster back in the day my dad, God bless his soul, would always encourage me to get back up again after a fall. I seem to be doing this quite a lot lately. Here’s many an old quote from Dad that makes me smile and come to mind when at the races. None more so than: “They get now’t for second!” as I am tearing up my ticket up after “Weighed In! Weighed in!” broadcast over the tannoy.
My father passed away at the turn of the millennium, just two months before his Great Grandchild was born. A girl that he had always wished for, all boys up till then. This little girl would have been spoilt rotten he’d always had plans for the great event, a pony and riding lessons being top of his list. My Dad would have loved this year Cheltenham, especially seeing the female jockeys partaking.
Headlines as in the TDN Europe on Friday: “CHELTENHAM THURSDAY: The Sport of Queens”
I couldn’t have been happier with the Frodon winning, as the jockey Bryony Frost (first female jockey to win a Grade 1 at Cheltenham) is in my select jockeys to follow list.
Her quote to the nation was inspiring and refreshing:
“[When he was headed] most horses would have accepted defeat but not Frodon. He said no, and I said no, and for that minute, those few strides, it could have gone the other way, but he grabbed hold of me and said ‘no kid, we keep going, that hill’s still there, there’s still one more to jump and we’re still in it, the line isn’t here yet’. And with his ears flat back on his neck, he wanted it more than anyone.”
The race after was also a tear jerker, in a nice way, for me, what a special win was Paisley Park for his owner Andrew Gemmell trained by Emma Lavelle. It’s like the Grand National we’re always enthralled not only with the race but also the little stories behind the winner and connections. The ‘Sun Racing Stayer’s Hurdle’ had its own story, Paisley Park nearly lost his life to colic two years ago but, returned to full health, and has remained unbeaten in five starts. Andrew is one of the greatest advertisements for racing, how he enjoys not only racing but all sports across the world. Not allowing being blind from birth stop him thoroughly enjoying himself. His excitement was infectious.
Then just as we thought it could n’t get any better along comes Siruh Du Lac in the 4:10 ridden by Lizzie Kelly the third woman to ride a winner this week. The first female jockey winner this week at Cheltenham was Rachael Blackmore winning the Listed Race ‘Close Brothers Novices Handicap Chase’ by 16L on board ‘A Plus Tard’ on the first day Lizzie was the first female jockey to ride a Grade 1 winner over fences with Tea For Two.
Well, what an exciting time we live. Things can only get better and I’m now looking forward to the Grand National. Will we be having a female Jockey winner? I hope so and then perhaps we can start thinking about dropping the female bit and call them what they are ‘JOCKEYS’. Although I am reminded that the first race on the Uttoxeter card today Saturday 16th March is the ‘Abacus Decorators Lady Riders’ Handicap Hurdle (Female Professional Jockeys/Amateur Riders’ Race’. Nine go to post with Woulduadamandeveit currently favourite (time of writing).