Lizzie Kelly has been leading the way for female riders in jump racing over the last couple of seasons, her Grade 1 successes on Tea For Two particular highlights for the jockey.
Riding for step-father Nick Williams, Kelly has often shone in top races and has plenty of opportunities to gain further big victories on Festival Trials Day at Cheltenham on Saturday.
We spoke to Kelly about her weekend rides, a couple of other eyecatchers from the season so far and what she has made of the emergence of Bryony Frost.
Erick Le Rouge is your first ride of the day in the opener at Cheltenham. What should we expect from him?
The ground could well be a bit too soft for him, but we don’t normally worry too much about ground and just go for it. He’s a very nice horse but I’m not sure he’s quite up to the task quite yet. He’s one to keep an eye on for the future though and the hill should suit him.
Your stable tend to bring their juveniles on steadily. Would that be the same case with him?
We’re pretty pleased with him as an individual but I’m not sure he’s as far forward as some of the others might be for this race. All horses have to improve and that’s what we like ours to do.
Bearing in mind your approach, you must have been pleased with Chatteris Fen winner Esprit De Somoza?
I was incredibly impressed with him. There’s a hell of a lot to look forward to with him and something like the Triumph Hurdle wouldn’t be out of the question for him.
Back to Cheltenham, and Coo Star Sivola looks to have strong prospects in the Grade 3 chase. Would you agree?
He’s a lovely horse and he has a favourite’s chance in this race. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t win and he’s got a good bit of experience for a race like this. He’s a nice horse.
You ride Tea For Two in the Cotswold Chase. You must be looking forward to that?
Always. He’s a talented horse and a good ride. He’ll need to produce his best again in this race, but we know his best is good enough for him to run very well.
He was third in the King George last time, a run people are using to downgrade the form. Do you think he is unfairly judged?
He ran a cracking race in the King George and he proved yet again that he is to be feared in the big races. People have a tendency to overlook him as he’s not trained by a big trainer or ridden by a big jockey.
Agrapart runs in the Cleeve Hurdle. How important is soft ground for him?
For him we hope the ground is as soft as it can be as he absolutely loves those conditions. He’s got the class to run well in a race like this and hopefully he’ll run the race of his life.
Le Rocher is a interesting dark horse for the JLT Novices’ Chase. What have you made of his season?
He’s had a fantastic season and I’ve been delighted for and with the horse. I haven’t ridden him but he’s a lovely horse and fingers crossed he goes well when running at the Festival.
You have been a trailblazer for female riders over jumps. How has it been watching the likes of Bryony Frost come through with such success this season?
It’s brilliant. I’ve known Bryony for a long time and used to ride in points with her, so I’ve grown up with her. It’s wonderful to see another girl doing so well and it’s been great to watch. I hope there are more to come in the future.
And, finally, what have you made of your season up to this point?
We’ve had an incredible season. We’ve had more winners up to this point than we had last season and we’re not far off our best total for a season. We’re just looking for a big winner now, and if we had one of those it would be a remarkable season.