Bryony Frost makes history by becoming first female jockey to win the King George VI Chase as Frodon secures 12th success in Kempton race for Paul Nicholls
- Frost secured the biggest prize ever won by a female jump jockey
- Her success came in one of the signature races of the British calendar
- The 20-1 chance gave trainer Nicholls his 12th win in the King George
On a deserted Boxing Day at Kempton, Bryony Frost secured the biggest prize ever won by a female jump jockey as she landed the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase on Frodon.
In fact, make that the biggest victory by a female jockey in any form of the sport in Britain.
Just 31 owners were standing in the Kempton stand plus six members of the stewarding staff at this behind-closed-doors fixture.
Bryony Frost secured the biggest prize ever won by a female jump jockey at Kempton
But they silently witnessed history unfold to a back-drop of the drone of traffic from the nearby M3 as Frost claimed a two-and-a-quarter-length success from fast-finishing Waiting Patiently.
Female jockeys have won group one races on the Flat and over jumps but Frost’s success came in one of the signature races of the British calendar, a jump racing Classic.
Frodon’s trainer Paul Nicholls, winning his 12th King George, had four runners and it seemed hard to look beyond his dual winner Clan Des Obeaux, who was beaten over eight lengths in third, and last year’s runner-up Cyrname (pulled up four out) before the race as they dominated the betting.
But in a covid-19 disrupted racing year in which many of the headlines and most of the awards in Flat racing have gone to Hollie Doyle, it was appropriate that the 70th running of the King George should be won by a female jockey aided by her greatest ally.
Frost’s success came in one of the signature races of the British calendar at Kempton
It was on Frodon, to considerably more decibels, that 25-year-old Frost landed the 2019 Grade One Ryan Chase, and she has now won six races in 16 rides on the eight-year-old gelding including the 2019 Cotswold Chase.
Before yesterday, the best finish for a female jockey in the King George’s was Lizzie Kelly’s third on Tea For Two behind Might Bite in 2017.
The plan is now a shot at the Cheltenham Gold Cup for Frodon, a horse which trainer Paul Nicholls conceded had probably even been underestimated in his own stable and one who has previously shown his best form at jump racing’s HQ.
To make the success even more special for Frost, it was the 175th of her career. It moved her ahead of Lucy Alexander and means Bryony is now British jump racing most successful jump jockey numerically.
Frost said: ‘It’s a few boundaries crossed and a few moulds broken. We are always writing history books in everything we do.
The 20-1 chance gave trainer Paul Nicholls his 12th King George win on Boxing Day
‘A few people asked how I assessed his chance before the race I said when you have a horse who jumps and gains as many lengths as he does over his obstacles and is as athletic and determined as he is anything is possible. He is one in a million.
‘I ride how I ride. Some people might not like, some horses and some trainers probably don’t either. But it’s not because I am a girl. It is the way I was brought up and the hours put into it.
‘Hollie is breaking boundaries and perceptions on the Flat and it’s a sport that we take pride in that we can go out there and compete on completely level terms.
‘You are not seen as a boy or a girl out there, you are seen as a jockey. Yes, you have to get a thick skin and stand up for yourself. You have to fight back at time and be stubborn but at times that comes quite naturally.
‘Maybe it gives us a more gung-ho attitude. For me riding is the simple part. It’s the place where there is most bliss and the head is quiet. You just gallop and jump.’
Nicholls said his orders to Frost before the race had been to try to go as fast as possible at the start and try to dominate the race from the front. But he conceded he’d said ‘two or three may come past you’.
He added that he had also tinkered with the training routine of the Paul Vogt-owned gelding, who had won a Cheltenham handicap chase on his seasonal debut in October but then ‘taken the mickey’ when beaten over 80 lengths at Aintree in a race where some of the jumps were removed because of low sun visibility issues.
Nicholls felt Clan Des Obeaux had run flat and not got into a rhythm while it was back to the drawing board with Cyrname who appeared to sulk when not able to lead.
In defeat Ruth Jefferson-trained Waiting Patiently ran a massive race under champion jockey Brian Hughes on his first start in over a year. Harry Whittington-trained Saint Calvados on his seasonal debut also ran a blinder in fourth, his stamina giving way as he lost two places from the last fence.
But Christmas at Kempton belonged to Frodon. There was no snow but a blanker covering of Frost.