Will Lizzie Kelly ride at Cheltenham?
On Boxing Day female jockey Lizzie Kelly made history, when she rode Tea For Two to victory in the Kauto Star Novices’ chase. Kelly became the first female jockey to ride a winner in a group one level jump race. Riding the second favourite Tea For Two Kelly had already seen off the favourite Native River, and with two to jump it was a straight shoot-out between her and Noel Fehily on Southfield Royale. Jumping the second last the pair were locked together but it was Kelly would find more. Tea For Two edged in front and then she landed in front after the last glory beckoned. Southfield Royale had nothing left as Kelly and Tea For Two got to the line with a 2 length lead. This was a little bit of a surprise as Tea For Two had never travelled 3 miles before, and the quirky horse had to be eased round the first lap of the race with Kelly taking him wide at the start. The landmark victory has now given female jockeys a platform to go and challenge their male rivals, in a sport that is dominated by their male counterparts.
Lizzie Kelly is one of only a handful of female jockeys who ride professionally in jump racing, and could pave the way for more females to join Kelly at the top of the sport. Kelly’s victory was a real family affair, as Tea For Two is trained by her her step-dad Nick Williams and her mum also works in the family business. Speaking to Racing UK after “I have come third before but there are always stories about people nearly achieving something. I have actually done it and we have done it as a family which mean a hell of a lot more. It just doesn't get any better.”
“It is important for people to see I can do it. We (female jockeys) are getting something and people are getting more accepting of it. The ambition is now to win another one.” Kelly proudly said.
Kelly has now set her sights on getting some of the top rides in the county, now she’s landed a group one winner. Kelly has plans to ruffle some feathers at the top end of the sport, by taking on here male friends. The cream of British racing will be heading to The Cheltenham Festival in March for the UK’s premier jump festival, and Kelly has her sights firmly set on making an impact there. As she admitted after one of her goals has always been to ride a winner at the Cheltenham Festival, and follow in the footsteps of some of her heroes: AP McCoy, Ruby Walsh Noel Fehily and Katie Walsh. “To ride a winner at Cheltenham is every jump jockeys dream, it’s the pinnacle of jump racing in the UK and who wouldn’t want to feature in the biggest spectacle in our sport.” Kelly said. So far this season Kelly has ridden 11 winners from 59 rides, statistics she will now like to improve on head of Cheltenham. Kelly will now be looking to pick up more rides form other trainers, now she has proven that she is more than capable of winning at the top level. Kelly and the family will again be out in force as they head to Sandown on February 6th. Tea For Two has been entered in the grade one race that day, with Kelly again onboard looking to emulate Boxing Day’s victory. If Kelly could guild Tea For Two home again, in back to back grade ones. Then the UK’s top trainers would be paying close attention, and fulfilling her Cheltenham dream could soon become a reality. Check out our Cheltenham free bets here.
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