Young jockey Bryony Frost has kicked off her career with a bang. She told Mike Drowne how it all began
Interview with the new female star of the jumping scene
The year 2017 will be one Bryony Frost will never forget.The 22-yearold bagged her first Cheltenham Festival winner in March, turned conditional in July and last month landed the prestigious Badger Ales Trophy at Wincanton.
Heavy rain looked to have ruined Present Man’s chances but Frost gave the seven-year-old a fine ride from the front and drove her mount home strongly to win by a head, 21 years after her father Jimmy won the race aboard Coome Hill.
Reflecting on the success, Bryony said: “In our lifetime not many of those fairytale things happen to us but I was very fortunate that it did. To be going in the footsteps of dad and to be achieving some of the things that he achieved is really cool.
“Some of the kids don’t get to do that and I am,to be given the opportunity to do that by Paul and the team and to have a horse like that to sit on, people say it’s a dream come true but it is,it might sound a bit cheesy but that is the case.”
This may be Bryony’s first season as a professional but she proved that she’s as strong as any jockey when winning on Present Man, as she had to battle out the finish with Leighton Aspell, one of the most experienced jockeys in the weighing room.
Bryony admitted: “It was a bit nerveracking when he came upsides I have to say, I was thinking oh anyone but you, but dad has always taught me you can’t lose your cool,rhythm wins races.At the end of the day keep his rhythm, don’t panic, just keep doing what you know, keep driving away and if he is good enough he will stay there.”
Bryony also landed the Mallardjewellers.com Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham’s open meeting the following week,which took her season tally to 17.
It wasn’t her first success at the home of jump racing – she steered home Pacha Du Polder to win the Foxhunter last season too.
With Bryony being the daughter of Jimmy, who won the Grand National in 1989 and also the Champion Hurdle in 1991, she was always destined to be a jockey and was even hunting by herself from the age of four.
Bryony recalled: “I was hunting on my own behind Mike Weir and the Dartmoor hunt because dad couldn’t keep up with me on the lead rein.I remember it clear as day he said‘Mike I can’t keep up with her can she follow you’ and he turned around and said if she can keep up with me she can come with me.
“I was hunt mad, going across bogs, that’s where my nickname came from – Bog Riding Bryony. That’s what I did because the ponies didn’t sink as bad, so Mike used to chuck me through the bog first so if I sunk he knew he couldn’t go in.”
Bryony is also sister to former jump jockey Hadden, who rode for Henrietta Knight and won the Pertemps Final aboard Buena Vista at the 2010 Cheltenham Festival.
“In the attic me and Hadden had an old mattress and an old bed frame,with a load of old rugs thrown over it with a saddle and a pair of reins. We used to drive the head off it every night.
“Dad would come up and teach us and say things like‘you want to keep your heel down a bit lower’.He taught us everything we know.
“That was where we started,I can’t even remember when I first went in there and started driving the head off it.We called it Woody, our equicizer, because it was mainly wood – not the most imaginative of kids!
“With experience your style changes. When I first started pointing I wasn’t very good that’s for sure.With time comes your own style and your own technique and you’ve always got to improve because
there’s always someone coming up behind you. So my style will keep developing and hopefully for the better.”
Despite being Paul Nicholls’conditional jockey,Frost admitted that there was no grand plan of stepping up into the professional ranks.
She added:“My licence had just run out and I got told off because I didn’t tack my horse up quick enough. Paul asked me where the hell had I been.I told him I was sorting out my licence that had run out. He said ‘but you’re going conditional’.
“I said yes but I’ve got to ride tomorrow and he told me to turn conditional now. I told him I would if I had his support. He replied ‘of course you have got support — what a stupid question’. So I was like oh ok!
“That was our conversation – there was no sitting down and no meeting. It was a case of Paul just saying, of course you’re going to turn conditional you’re doing too well not to.
“From the outset you always dream about having the opportunity to turn professional but you stay amateur because you get more opportunities doing that. I came to the crossroads of either left to stay amateur or right to turn conditional.
“I thought well if I don’t do it now I never will and this is what I want, this is my career this is what I’ve always dreamed of from being a little girl. This is me — it’s what I want to do — and if I don’t do it now what’s the point of all the work I’ve put into it? I grabbed it with both hands.”
Unlike her nickname suggests “Bog Riding Bryony” is very talented and you are sure to see a lot more of her this season as she is one of the best conditionals around.
Bryony recovers at Larkhill
Pacha Du Polder