Top 5 leading ladies at the Cheltenham Festival

Jessica Harrington gold cup

Photo courtesy of David Davis

While female racegoers will be aiming to turn heads with their fashionable winter outfits next week; the Cheltenham Festival will also play centre stage to a host of lady jockeys and trainers who’ll be aiming to make an a big splash on the track.

After much deliberation, we’ve whittled them down to a very elite top 5.

Jessica Harrington

Last year, Jessica Harrington really hit the headlines, winning the trophy all trainers want to get their hands on – the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup with Sizing John.

The feat was made even more remarkable given that Sizing John was the trainer’s first ever entry in the race.

Sizing John will once again line-up this season for Harrington, but this year she has another runner, Our Duke, who is well fancied to run well in the blue riband event.

She could win back-to-back Gold Cups with two different horses, a feat last achieved by Paul Nicholls with the legendary pair of Kauto Star and Denman.

But it hasn’t all been about recent success, over the last 20 years, Harrington has experienced top level success at Cheltenham training the likes of Moscow Flyer, Boston’s Angel and Jezki.

She’s a force to be reckoned with at the Festival!

 

Bryony Frost

She’s the undoubted rising star of the weighing room at the minute and you’d be a very brave person to suggest that she doesn’t have every chance of landing a winner during festival week.

The 22-year old has been making waves across National Hunt racing this season as Paul Nicholls’ conditional jockey.

It was in late 2017 when Frost propelled herself onto the Jumps scene when she landed the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase on Black Corton, making her only the second female jockey in Britain or Ireland to win a top-class race over obstacles.

Last year Frost had success over the Cheltenham fences as an amateur winning the Foxhunter Chase on board Pacha Du Polder.

However, this year with the backing of powerhouse trainer Paul Nicholls, Frost clearly has a further chance of success, where she expects to partner Black Corton in one of Cheltenham’s big prizes- the Grade One RSA Chase.

 

Nina Carberry

The female rider dubbed ‘the first lady of racing’ following her Irish Grand National heroics. Carberry is the most successful female jockey at The Cheltenham Festival.

Carberry made history with her first Cheltenham Festival win in 2005 when she partnered Dabiroun in the Fred Winter Juvenile Novices’ Handicap Hurdle. In the process she became the first female jockey in 18 years to win a race at the Cheltenham Festival.

Since then, the Irish jockey has had six further Cheltenham Festival winners, with a record four wins coming in the Cross Country Chase alone.

The leading amateur rider also made a victorious return to action in September last year after 9 months away from the saddle following the birth of her daughter Rosie.

This year, she will be hoping she can immediately return to her 2016 festival form which saw her win back-to-back renewals of the Foxhunter Chase aboard her old ally On The Fringe.

This year she likely faces a reunion with On The Fringe in the Foxhunters. Alternatively, she may well turn to Staker Wallace who would be looking for a first victory over the Cheltenham fences.

 

Lizzie Kelly

Jockey Lizzie Kelly has already proved time and time again that she can handle the big occasions as she continues to build on her impressive CV.

The 24-year-old became the first female rider to win a National Hunt Grade One race when steering Tea For Two to victory at Kempton in the 2015 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase.

She has since followed this up with big race wins, again aboard Tea For Two in the Betway Bowl at Aintree and also with hurdler Agrapart who most recently took the spoils in the Cleeve Hurdle over the Cheltenham fences in January.

Lizzie’s book of rides at Cheltenham will be headlined by the Nick Williams trained duo Flying Tiger and Coo Star Sivola.

And she will be hoping Tea For Two can turn back the years to challenge a particularly strong field in the Timico Gold Cup.

Venetia Williams

Venetia Williams has consistently outperformed many of her piers having maintained a position amongst racing’s training elite for almost twenty years.

Williams’ biggest moment in racing came in 2009 when she trained 100/1 outsider Mon Mome to Grand National victory.

The Herefordshire based trainer has had on and off success at the Festival.

She trained Something Wells to win the 2009 Freddie Williams Festival Plate, saddling the first two home, remarkably less than two hours after winning with Kayf Aramis in the Pertemps Final, capping a marvellous festival.

2018 provides a stiffer challenge for the experienced trainer.

She’s not got quite the armoury that other big name trainers have but Williams may be able to count on a couple of outside chances.

Willie Boy, who has never run over the Cheltenham Fences, possesses the best of her hopes in the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase.

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