With less than a week to go until our Cheltenham Festival tips get underway, the tension is rising for jockeys and trainers, with the excitement and anticipation also rising for us, the fans! As today is International Women’s Day, we here at myracing decided we would dedicate an article to the brilliant female riders and, more specifically, the ones who are likely to be given rides on the grandest stage of National Hunt racing. Listed below are some of the female jockeys we feel are likely to be given rides and the notable rides that have got them here.
Perhaps the most notable on the list is Lizzie Kelly, not least due to the fact that she is scheduled to be riding in the showpiece race of the Festival. A star in the ascendancy, Kelly became the first female jockey to ride a Grade 1 winner at Kempton in the Kauto Star Novices Chase on Tea For Two. It is fitting that she will again partner this horse for Nick Williams in a bid for Gold Cup glory, becoming the first woman in 33 years to ride in the Festival’s Showpiece race. A massive achievement for any jockey, and one certainly earned, it would be an incredible feat if she were to win the Gold Cup. That, however, does look very unlikely, with him still being available at a best priced 66/1 to take home the glory come next Friday. Kelly does look likely to have a host of other rides though, with the horses listed below likely to be partnered by Lizzie.
Tied on ten wins for the season alongside Lizzie Kelly, Bridget Andrews is another female jockey having a great season, with many rides for top trainer Dan Skelton. It is difficult to know what rides she will be receiving, but she is good value for her claim and will be a useful commodity in the handicaps. Skelton has plenty of double entries to races, which could open the door for Andrews and we have listed below the rides that she could be getting come next week –
A Grade 1 winning jockey in Ireland, Katie Walsh has proved herself time and time again over the years as a very useful jockey. Winner of the Irish Grand National, Irish Champion Bumper and many other graded handicaps, Walsh also rode Seabass to third in the 2012 Grand National, which still remains as the best ride by a female jockey in the race to date. She is another jockey likely to have rides at the Festival, though it is again hard to deduce which horses it could be. Considering how many runners Willie Mullins usually has in the Champion Bumper, that seems the most likely place for her to pick up a ride, with five runners entered by Mullins at present. Those include Carter McKay, Mystic Theatre, Ballyward, Next Destination and Redhotfillypeppers.
One of the few professional female jockeys over in Ireland, Rachael Blackmore is a graded handicap winner and it is still early days for her. Blackmore has continually proven that she is a more than capable rider, even as recently as Leopardstown in February, where she executed a perfectly timed ride to win on Who’s That. She definitely deserves rides at this level and, although it is impossible to know which horses she may get chances on, she is likely to be given a chance in some of the handicap races during the week.
In recent seasons, female jockeys have really risen to prominence, both on the flat and over obstacles. It is something that is brilliant to see as all of these jockeys on the list – as well as others we have not listed – have huge amounts of talent and deserve their chances at the top level. Our Cheltenham Festival tips are now available on site, with in depth previews covering the key runners in each race. As always, our Twitter is the best place to keep up to date with the latest news and discussions as Festival Fever really ramps up!