Golden girls chase Gold Cup glory! All eyes are on Bryony Frost and Rachael Blackmore as they bid to be first female jockey to win the biggest race at the Cheltenham Festival
- The female jockeys will seek to make racing history at Cheltenham on Friday
- Blackmore rides 3-1 joint favourite A Plus Tard, while Frost is on 14-1 shot Frodon
- Standing in the way of the golden girls is dual Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo
The racing world is poised to see if Rachael Blackmore or Bryony Frost can make racing history in Friday’s WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Never before have female jockeys had such a good chance of winning the most prestigious steeplechase in the sport and only three women have attempted it.
Blackmore carries momentum into the race after becoming the first female jockey to win the Champion Hurdle with Honeysuckle on Tuesday and two more successes on Thursday took her tally for the week to five, two more than any other jockey.
Bryony Frost and Rachael Blackmore (right) will seek to make racing history on Friday
She rides 3-1 joint favourite A Plus Tard while Frost’s partner Frodon — her King George VI Chase winner — is a 14-1 shot.
Blackmore achieved the best finishing position for a female jockey in the Gold Cup when fourth on Monalee last year and bookmakers have predicted A Plus Tard may even be shorter odds than Willie Mullins-trained dual winner Al Boum Photo.
Blackmore could have ridden Henry De Bromhead-trained stablemate Minella Indo, but she has Festival history with A Plus Tard, who gave 31-year-old Blackmore the first of her eight Festival winners when landing the 2019 Close Brothers Handicap Chase.
A Plus Tard galloped into the Gold Cup picture when winning the three-mile Savills Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas with Darragh O’Keeffe the jockey.
Blackmore rides 3-1 joint favourite A Plus Tard while Frost’s partner Frodon is a 14-1 shot
Blackmore, who won on Thursday on Allaho (Ryanair Chase) and Telme-somethinggirl (Mares Novices’ Hurdle), said: ‘A Plus Tard is a Grade One winner over two miles and three miles and a very classy individual.
‘In his last race he was ridden to get the trip because it was a bit of an unknown for him. He is stepping up in trip again but a horse like him is only improving.’
Frost and Paul Nicholls-trained Frodon have also shared their greatest moments, having landed the 2019 Ryanair Chase over 2m 5f — the biggest Festival win for a female jockey at the time — before going on to their King George success.
With six Cheltenham wins on his record, Frodon has shown that the HQ of jump racing brings out the best in him. Frost, 25, said: ‘He’s phenomenal. He teaches you to be determined and I’m extremely lucky to be associated with him.
‘He knows his way round here probably better than me. The nature of horses is that when they get older and strengthen, they see out their races further and this year he’s really proved that three miles is very much within his reach.
Blackmore (above) carries momentum into the Gold Cup after five successes this week
‘They will go an endless gallop. There’s no cat-and-mouse about it.’
Standing in the way of the golden girls is Al Boum Photo.
He would join steeplechasing greats Arkle, Best Mate and Cottage Rake — all three-time race winners — if he succeeds under jockey Paul Townend.
The fact Al Boum Photo only runs once in the build-up to the Gold Cup — this is the third year in a row that Paul Townend’s mount has used the Savills New Year’s Day Chase at Tramore as his stepping stone to the big prize — means he has a relatively low profile for a steeplechaser who has achieved so much.
Al Boum Photo broke the Mullins Gold Cup duck two years ago and he believes his nine-year-old deserves to be mentioned alongside the greats of steeplechasing.
Standing in the way of the golden girls on Friday is dual Gold Cup winner Al Boum
Mullins said: ‘We think he is in a good position and any time Paul has ridden him, he has been happy. He obviously has an engine and if he can do it three times I think he can sit up there with any of them.’
The race is packed with potential history-makers. De Bromhead could become the first person to train the winner of the Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase — which he won with Put The Kettle On — and Gold Cup at the same meeting.
Victory for Nicholls would be a record-equalling fifth in the race, matching Irish trainer Tom Dreaper, while a triumph for 2018 winner Native River or stablemate Lostintranslation would be popular after their trainer Colin Tizzard announced last week that this would be his last Festival before handing over to son Joe.
Success for Nicky Henderson’s Champ would also be some tale. The winner of the RSA Chase at last year’s Festival was named after 20-time champion jockey Sir Anthony McCoy by owner JP McManus.