Bryony Frost left behind an emotional few days to pilot Greaneteen to a superb victory in the Betfair Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown for trainer Paul Nicholls.
Frost has been at the British Horseracing Authority’s headquarters in London this week, giving evidence relating to the charges brought against Robbie Dunne of prejudicial conduct and violent and threatening behaviour towards her, all but one of which he denies.
Starting at 12-1, Frost and Greaneteen travelled handily through the two-mile Grade One contest until he was ridden to take up the lead over the penultimate fence.
From there he pulled further and further away from stablemate Hitman, and eventually crossed the line five and a half lengths ahead to give Nicholls a one-two in a race he was winning for the 12th time. Hot favourite Chacun Pour Soi was a major disappointment.
Frost said: “I got over the last, but it felt a very, very long way up the hill! We were riding for everything we were worth.
“I can’t speak. I landed over the last and thought ‘I’m going to get caught, somebody’s going to come and get me. I can hear them, I can hear the crowd!’.
“We won the Tingle Creek. I absolutely can’t believe it.
“I can’t tell you what it (reception from the crowd) means, to feel the support of everyone here is huge.
“I ride horses and it’s the best life. I can say I do that as a job. It’s quite special and it’s the best place to be when you are galloping out on track. That’s the place you’ve got to take yourself, it’s what I’ve done since I was little.”
She added: “They knew he was 100 per cent right today and the team at home is phenomenal. I couldn’t do this without the team, Paul and his training. Paul said this was the horse that was coming here for this.
“My biggest mishap was probably on the downhill fence, we were right down on our nose, but he is a smarty and he is clever and he brought me back up. I travelled down the back and coming upsides our stablemate Hitman, around the home bend, we found two out and found the last and we just kept coming to the line.
“We crossed the line and it was a moment of relief and also then it starts flooding in that, ‘My God, you’ve just won the Tingle Creek!’. It was awesome.
“I’m feeling like I’m on cloud nine, which consistently happens when you ride for Paul. It is absolutely phenomenal for everyone involved. This horse has taken me to the heights. He is well on the way up.
“I felt the support and that they (crowd) were right behind me, pushing me forward. I am very privileged that people are behind me and enjoy watching me ride and enjoy the person who I am.”
Nicholls – whose previous Tingle Creek heroes include Kauto Star and Master Minded – was quick to pay tribute to Frost.
He said: “It has been a difficult week for Bryony, of course it has, I don’t think anyone would want to be in that position, but she has handled it well. To come back and ride a Grade One winner, that says everything about her and what a professional she is, so full marks to her.
“She has done nothing but improve and improve and while she has had a few little issues off the course and on the course, that will be put behind her soon. She will keep riding winners like this and it will soon be history. Top girl.”
Of his latest winner, he said: “He is improving enormously all the time. Today was the best I have ever seen him look. He is a young horse and he wasn’t beaten far last year and we probably didn’t ride him right.
“We didn’t have enough belief in him to be honest, but he stays on really strongly now and you can ride him differently. He was beaten two lengths in the race last year and I know he has improved more than that.
“He is a real live contender for that (Champion Chase) and obviously loves it around here, but obviously the Champion Chase will be his target now.
“I knew he had run at Exeter and that was his prep run to take the freshness off him and then he had a month’s real hard work between then and today. When he went by the winning post with a circuit to go, I knew he would be thereabouts because he had dropped the bridle and was relaxed and since Exeter we have not missed him.
“The improvement since Exeter has been enormous. You saw him in the paddock today – he stripped fit, he is improving and he won that very nicely.
“He won a novice chase at Ascot off 135 and he is now 160-170 and has improved tremendously.”
He went on: “I was pleased with Hitman. He is only a five-year-old. He will have plenty of big days. He is improving and getting stronger all the time. For a five-year-old, that was a very good run from him as well. The best is yet to come from him.”
Jockey Patrick Mullins felt Chacun Pour Soi might be a carrying a knock of some sort as he failed to jump with his usual fluency.
“He felt like he might be feeling something, but he didn’t fire today,” he said.
“He was perfectly sound when he pulled up. He didn’t jump like he can.
“I was surprised he wasn’t attacking the fences and when I asked him he just didn’t do that. He never jumped like he can. It wasn’t to be today.”