Frost and Blackmore bid to be crowned Queen of King George
London (AFP) – Jockeys Bryony Frost and Rachael Blackmore have more than got the measure of their male rivals in the high-risk sport of jumps racing and can once again put the men in the shade in the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Sunday.
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Frost and her mount Frodon are tough as teak competitors. Their victory last year, after leading from pillar to post, made Frost the first female jockey to win the King George
Though, they were well beaten behind Minella Indo, Blackmore's mount on Sunday, in March's Cheltenham Gold Cup they got their revenge in October.
Frost and Frodon teamed up to win the Champion Chase at Down Royal in Northern Ireland with Minella Indo five lengths back in third.
At 26, Frost is six years younger than Blackmore, and has also shown guts off the track in bringing a successful complaint of sustained bullying and intimidation against fellow jockey Robbie Dunne.
The Irish journeyman rider received an 18 month suspension, three of them suspended. He was told in a damning judgement: "You meant to instil fear and humiliation and you succeeded."
Frost is a turfiste favourite as became clear when she won at Sandown, while the hearing was still going on, and was greeted with three cheers of 'Hip Hip Hooray!'.
"That support from the racing public, they have been like a mass family. I felt the really personal thumbs ups: 'you're doing ace, keep kicking, stay who you are'," she said.
'Showed his guts'
Blackmore could round off her annus mirabilis -- becoming the first woman rider to win the Champion Hurdle and the Grand National -- by adding what is considered the second most prestigious steeplechase behind the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Ironically, Minella Indo denied Blackmore the blue riband of steeplechasing the Gold Cup after the jockey chose to ride trainer Henry de Bromhead's other runner A Plus Tard and finished second.
Minella Indo will bid to emulate Ireland's last winner of Sunday's race Kicking King who won the 2005 Gold Cup prior to winning the King George.
"You'd like to think a reproduction of his Gold Cup run would put him right there in the mix," said owner Barry Maloney.
Frost and Blackmore will be mindful that dangers lurk not least Frodon's Paul Nicholls stablemate Clan des Obeaux, part-owned by former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson.
The horse finished a distant third in last year's race having won the previous two runnings but rediscovered his best form by season's end in winning top class chases at Aintree and in Ireland at the Punchestown Festival.
Ferguson, who turns 80 next Friday, is a hard taskmaster but he has no complaints about Clan des Obeaux.
"He carried on when beaten (in the 2020 renewal) and showed his guts," he told the Yorkshire Post.
"Consistency, doing his best. I think that is a great quality for a horse.
"It is good to have one to trust to do his very best."
© 2021 AFP