It was more than an hour after Bryony Frost crossed the line in the King George on the 20-1 chance Frodon that the significance of her achievement started to sink in. “I didn’t realise that,” she said, when told that she was the first female jockey to win one of jumping’s most prestigious events. “That’s kinda cool.”
It is and all the more so to have become Britain’s most successful female rider over jumps too, now one winner ahead of Lucy Alexander with 175, as she secured her third Grade One winner.
But, as Frost also said: “I’ve won a King George on Frodon for Paul [Nicholls] and the team and that’s the big thing for me, regardless of the girl stuff and the winners and the numbers and history and whatnot. It’s the horse I’ve been able to do it on, the team I’ve been able to do it for, and it’s the race.”
Saturday’s race was copybook Frost-Frodon from the moment her horse pricked his ears at the sight of the first fence and then charged off to attack it. They were in front from start to finish, jumping boldly and often brilliantly as better-fancied opponents, including Frodon’s stable companions Cyrname and Clan Des Obeaux, dropped away.
As they turned in for the final time with three to jump, Frodon was still racing with all his familiar enthusiasm as Clan Des Obeaux and Waiting Patiently tried vainly to close the gap. Cyrname and Lostintranslation – who broke a blood vessel – had been pulled up by that stage and yet another flying leap at the last was enough to seal victory by just over two lengths.
The only disappointment was that there was no Boxing Day sell-out to roar them on up the straight and supply the noisy welcome back to the winner’s enclosure that the horse and rider so richly deserved.
“You know how fast you’re going and we were going a right clip,” Frost said, “and some of the jumps we did … How a natural creation can do that is unbelievable. The mechanics, his athleticism, how he deals with his obstacles.
“You struggle to keep up with him because he’s 10 strides ahead of you the whole time. My brain is constantly trying to keep up with him.
“He’s got me and I’ve got him. I know his limits and he knows mine. He’s one in a million and I can remember watching him in the yard when I was just a kid at Paul’s and thinking, ‘even if I get to school him, that would be epic’.”
Instead, Frost was given her first chance to ride Frodon in public as a 5lb claimer in December 2017 and the pair of them clicked on the track to such an extent that even when the rider lost her claim, Nicholls and Frodon’s owners, Paul and Ruth Vogt, kept the partnership intact. Their faith was swiftly rewarded with victory in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham in March 2019 and now an even more prestigious prize has been added to the list.
“I ride how I ride,” Frost said, “and some people and horses and trainers might not like it, but it’s not because I’m a girl, it’s the way I’ve been brought up and taught.
Greg Wood’s Sunday tips
Wetherby 11.55 Jennys Day 12.25 Elysian Flame 1.00 Remastered 1.35 Kings Creek 2.10 First Flow 2.45 The Delray Munky 3.20 Parramount
Chepstow 12.30 Champagne Rhythm 1.05 Esprit Du Large 1.40 Marta Des Mottes 2.15 Storm Arising 2.50 Springfield Fox (nap) 3.25 The Grey Falco 3.55 Supreme Escape
Kempton Park 12.45 Her Indoors 1.20 Shishkin 1.55 Molly Ollys Wishes (nb) 2.30 Rouge Vif 3.05 Darlac 3.40 Torigni
Wolverhampton 1.50 A Go Go 2.25 Warrior Brave 3.00 Three Platoon 3.35 Moonlight In Paris 4.10 Muftakker 4.40 King Of The South 5.10 Rayyan 5.40 Amasova
“Hollie [Doyle] is breaking boundaries, moulds, perceptions on the Flat and we take pride that we can go out there and compete on completely level ground. You’re not seen as a boy or girl out there, you’re seen as a jockey.
“OK, you’ve got to get a thick skin and stand up for yourself and fight back at points and be stubborn probably, which comes quite naturally. But to me, my riding is the simple part. It’s the place where it’s most bliss and your head’s the most quiet and you can just gallop and jump. It’s the best place in the world to be.”
With a King George in the bag, Cheltenham in March could yet be the best place of all for Frost and Frodon, who is around 14-1 to make his rider the first female winner of the Gold Cup, at a track that suits his style much better than Kempton.
“He’s loving his racing so why not give him the chance?” Frost said. “You wouldn’t even question his stamina on that [performance] today, I’ve been on the bit the whole way.
“If Paul says we’ll go for the Gold Cup, we’ll follow him blind.”