In a season where Rachael Blackmore has understandably grabbed all the headlines, Bryony Frost reminded everyone of her talents as the campaign came to a close at Sandown.
Frost’s historic achievement in winning the King George VI Chase aboard Frodon has been overshadowed by Blackmore’s spectacular Cheltenham and Grand National efforts – but reunited with her favourite horse at Sandown, a partnership that just seems made to measure came home in front once more.
Paul Nicholls’ nine-year-old answered every call in the bet365 Oaksey Chase, simply refusing to give in to Nico de Boinville and Mister Fisher.
Frost – the first woman to ride a winner over jumps at the Cheltenham Festival – said: “What he’s done for me is incredible.
“We went a right good gallop the whole way – I wondered if he’d enjoy letting himself on this ground, but Sandown have done a great job in making it safe.
“What a battle – Mister Fisher was all over us, but this lad won’t go down without a fight.
“He’s everything you want, you dream of horses like him.”
Reflecting further on the victory of the 4-5 favourite, who prevailed by a neck, Frost said: “On form, you’d call us a certainty but nothing is in racing.
“He’s had a long season and Paul’s done a fantastic job along with everyone at home to make sure he’s here and have enough energy levels to take this race on.
“Yes, he’s plenty good enough to be seeing them all off but we were tired and they took us on down the back and I thought we were beat when Nico loomed up like that on us, but he is the definition of brave and the definition of determination.”
As it turned out, Frodon was to prove the hors d’oeuvre for Frost and Nicholls.
All eyes were on Altior in the bet365 Celebration Chase, and the former champion set off as if meaning business – shooting into the lead and putting in some magnificent leaps in the process.
But Frost was alert to every move with Greaneteen (13-2) and at pains to make sure De Boinville did not get too much rope as things started to hot up, not needing a second invitation when Altior came off the rail.
Quickening very smartly, he had Altior coming back at the line but was ultimately a comfortable three-and-three-quarter-length winner.
Frost said: “I said coming in the car I hoped it was going to be a good day for us and thankfully it really has been.
“Altior is a force to be reckoned with on a bad day or a good day. I used how my horse travels very forward on his bit. He likes to get on with his job so I just allowed that gap to come down going down the hill so I thought we better take it and hunt him and close him down so we don’t have to do the hard work on the uphill part of the course. Luckily it worked out to our fortune.
“He has really progressed and he is a horse that has probably been overlooked a little bit this year.
“This horse has one chink in his armour in that he can be a bit too keen, but he’s learning to settle and I have a 100 per cent strike-rate on him from winning a novice hurdle on him to winning the Celebration Chase today.”
Looking back on her season, Frost added: “There have been some serious lows and brilliant highs. For me personally I’ve ended up on 47 so I’ve been so close to matching my best season and with the two months short and being out for those couple of days after Aintree I’m happy with how it has gone.
“We’ve won a King George with Frodon and we’ve been able to put the icing on the cake as it were today with him with a massive battle which he is known for and to get Greaneteen his Grade One is huge.
“It has been a massive turn of the clock this afternoon and getting a Grade One with the little ‘Grean Machine’ as we call him it’s just epic, it’s awesome.”
Frost was out of action after being unseated from Yala Enki in the National and suffering concussion. She was quick to pay tribute to the staff at the Injured Jockeys Fund’s Oaksey House.
She said: “I was in a dark room with the sun shining outside and you are looking at the racing going past you, but it is what it is and you have only got one head and you have got to look after it and make sure you come back 110 per cent.
“The IJF and Oaksey House have been amazing to me. Emma, who has been my physio through this head injury, has been brilliant. She contained me and said don’t take your test too soon as we have a further 10 days off if we fail and that would have meant missing today.
“I felt sharp out there today, but then again I’m on the winners and when you ride the winners it is the easiest place to ride, it is when you are second or third that is sometimes the hardest.
“When I won the conditional title and got 50 winners I said I didn’t know how I would match that. I never knew how I would match winning a Grade One on Black Corton at Kempton, then I went and won a Ryanair and we did the King George.
“When you surround yourself by good people and intelligent people and that are very good at their job it allows you to be the best you can be and get to the levels you dream of.”