A female to be the Cheltenham Festival Top Jockey?
Can a female jockey win top jockey at the 2020 Cheltenham festival?
The pinnacle of the horse racing season is nearly here again. Who can forget that gallant, brave ride from Bryony Frost on Frodon in last year’s Ryanair Chase. A race that was followed by a super emotional interview from Bryony herself that just authenticated to race goers worldwide why we love this sport. It was such a dramatic race that some people may have forgotten that by winning the race she also became the first Jockey to win a Grade one at the Cheltenham Festival.
The 2019 edition of the festival won’t only be remembered for Bryony’s success, it was very quickly followed up by Rachael Blackmore’s success the next day winning the Grade One Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle on Minella Indo. Rachael had already won one race at the festival and fellow female jockey Lizzie Kelly had also picked up a win at the festival.
2019 was a huge step for female jockeys and one that wouldn’t have been predicted a few years ago. With female jockey improving every season and picking up more and more wins, is it silly to start thinking about the possibility of a female winning the Top Jockey award at the festival?
The season for female jockeys
Bryony Frost rise to the top of the female jockey scene isn’t one that’s gone unnoticed. Heading into the 2020 Cheltenham festival she has a 14% strike rate with 40 wins this campaign in the UK, but more impressively is how often she’s finished in the top 4 places. Our record this season she’s her come into the festival with a 46% record of finishing in the top 4. Her rides are yet to be announced for the festival, but you can be sure she’ll in the mix for a lot of races, her trusty Frodon has also been entered into this year’s renewal of the Ryanair chase, what a story that would be.
We believe the story is written in the stars for 2020 is for Rachael Blackmore. She is the rising star of not only the female scene, but the jockey scene as a whole. With over 60 winners to her name already this season you’d be silly to think she won’t win at the festival. To make things more appealing she is the stable jockey for none other than Henry De Bromhead a top Irish trainer looking to raid this year’s festival.
The pairing have already had grade one successes this season with A Plus Tard and Honeysuckle, the latter a is a big fancy to oppose odds on Benie Des Dieux in this year’s Grade one Close Brothers mares hurdle. A Plus Tard will run in the Ryanair, very possibly against Bryony Frost on Frodon. In the Arkle she will ride the current favourite Notebook who currently sits at 5/1 in the betting.
We’re predicting she’ll have around 15 mounts in next week’s festival with a big % coming with some good backing, including runners in the Triumph and Supreme. After such a great season including multiple grade one at the Dublin racing festival in Ireland, she’ll be ready to handle the pressure that comes from running in the Cheltenham festival. She’ll be setting herself a goal to beat last years two winners. Rachael Blackmore at the time of this post is 6/1 to be top jockey, if you want even more volume there is 20/1 for her to be top jockey and Henry De Bromhead to be crowned top trainer. With pretty much all of Rachael’s mounts coming from Henry the two should go hand in hand on the betting.
What about Bryony?
Unfortunately, we don’t think this years festival will be quite as successful for Bryony Frost, at least not In the graded races anyway. That being said she has as good a chance as anyway in some fairly competitive handicaps and judging by her record this year you know she’ll be right up there in the fight. We can’t point any out just yet until the runners are confirmed but weight and form are worth looking out for on the cards.
Will we really have a female top jockey in 2020?
Nothing is ever easy, and Rachael has some big competition against some of most proven jockeys in the land. Last years winner Nico de Boinville will be back in the saddle next week and after Altior failed attempt being upped in trip he’ll be back to defend his crown in the Queen mother chase in a hot renewal against non-other than Defi Du Seuil.
Robbie Power has been firing all season and seems to be a match made in heaven with gold cup winning trainer Colin Tizzard and will have plenty of opportunities. The biggest competition will likely be Paul Townend who has taken over from Ruby Walsh as the rider for Willie Mullins stable, a trainer that always delivers at the Cheltenham festival.