Tag Archive for: Lucy Wadham

Cheltenham reunion for Frost and Martello Sky

Bryony Frost is looking forward to being reunited with Martello Sky at the Cheltenham Festival next week.

Frost was successful aboard the Lucy Wadham-trained mare at Market Rasen in October, and partnered her in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle 12 months ago.

The grey is on a hat-trick after wins at Cheltenham in December and Sandown in January, although Aidan Coleman was in the saddle on those occasions.

“Just a week to go now and plenty of things are still up in the air, including whether or not Frodon gets to take his chance in the Ultima Handicap Chase on the opening day,” Frost told Betfair.

“But one ride I can confirm I’m back on now is Martello Sky in the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle the same afternoon, and she’s one I’m really excited about.

“I’ve ridden Martello Sky whenever I’ve been able to, but when she beat the former Martin Pipe Hurdle winner Indefatigable in a decent handicap for mares at Cheltenham in December, and again when she won a Listed hurdle for mares at Sandown next time, it wasn’t with me on board.

“I’d won on her at Market Rasen in October, and before that in a maiden hurdle at Fakenham last season, and luckily for me Lucy Wadham and the owners – a great bunch of people who race as The Sky Partnership – have been incredibly loyal to me.

“The betting for the race is headed by three mares who are all previous winners at the Festival – Telmesomethinggirl, Concertista and Burning Victory – which tells you how tough it’s going to be, but Martello Sky is a high-class mare herself and I think only Marie’s Rock, of Nicky Henderson’s, is a shorter price than her among the home-trained runners.

“She’s a dynamite little filly who loves the track, and I’d like to think she has a live each-way chance.”

Bryony Frost with Frodon after their victory in the Ryanair Chase
Bryony Frost with Frodon after their victory in the Ryanair Chase (Paul Harding/PA)

Frost and Frodon have been one of the real success stories at Cheltenham in the last few years, famously landing the Ryanair Chase in 2019.

She added: “We will have to watch the forecast for Frodon, and it’s still a case of wait and see for my other possibilities at Cheltenham. The excitement is growing though, and I’ve got my fingers crossed there will be another nice chance or two.”

Graystone takes Adonis test against Knight Salute at Kempton

Lucy Wadham is hoping Graystone can continue to surprise her when he lines up against 10 rivals in the Coral Adonis Hurdle at Kempton on Saturday.

The four-year-old has proved a useful juvenile hurdler, belying his pace-laden pedigree, winning two of his last three starts.

Though he fell at the last when leading on his penultimate start at Taunton, the James Summers-owned Graystone stayed on strongly to score over two miles at Wetherby last time out.

“He hasn’t done a lot wrong except fall in a hole at Taunton,” said Wadham.

“He really should have three ones by his name. I think he is improving with racing and he stays so well. He is bred to get six furlongs.

“He won over 10 furlongs on the Flat and he is by Dark Angel out of a Distorted Humor mare. He keeps surprising me.

“He started over seven furlongs on the Flat and with his running style you expect him really to peg out towards the end of his races, but he keeps going.

“The one thing he doesn’t like is being held up.”

Regular partner Bryony Frost has been claimed by Paul Nicholls to ride Rubaud in the two-mile contest, where rivals include unbeaten Knight Salute, Nicholls’ hurdling debutant Pleasant Man and the Nicky Henderson-trained Impulsive One.

So Aidan Coleman, who rode Martello Sky to victory for Wadham in a Listed mares’ hurdle at Sandown on January 8, comes in for the ride.

Wadham added: “Hopefully he will run a nice race at Kempton. The track should suit him.”

Like Nicholls, who has been through something of a lean spell, Wadham has been scratching her head about the form of some of her string, not having recorded a winner for almost a month.

Martello Sky was her last notable success and she will head straight to the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Wadham said: “She has had quite a busy season and has won three races.

“That (heavy) ground at Sandown was not ideal and she had a very hard race, so we immediately decided to give her a quiet 10 days and get her going again, but she is back on track and in strong work now, and it is so far so good.

“We could just do with our horses running a bit better. We have gone a bit quiet in February. Sometimes it is nothing, or horses are not handicapped to win, but it has been uncanny how they have gone from hero to zero. They seem fine in themselves and look well.

“People don’t really notice when it happens to us, but obviously with Paul it is front-page news.

“They have to be 110 per cent right to run, 95 per cent is not good enough.”

Business as usual for Bryony Frost after bullying case conclusion

Bryony Frost was winless from three rides at Doncaster on Friday as she tried to return to normality following the British Horseracing Authority disciplinary panel hearing which found Robbie Dunne had bullied and harassed her.

Dunne was handed an 18-month ban, three of which are suspended, having been found in breach on four charges of conduct prejudicial to racing.

Frost, who said she has been left isolated by the weighing room since the allegations were made, was at least made to feel welcome by racegoers on Town Moor as she made her way to the paddock for her first mount, Amenon, who finished second for champion trainer Paul Nicholls.

Frost did not want to add to her statement, released on Thursday, when approached for comment, but was happy to sign autographs and pose for photos with racegoers.

She went on to finish third on Flic Ou Voyou and unplaced on Neil King’s Perfect Myth.

Along with Nicholls and King, trainer Lucy Wadham forms part of the triumvirate who are Frost’s biggest supporters and she was present on Town Moor.

“I’ve probably said all I want to say on the matter, but I think she’s handled herself brilliantly through all this,” said Wadham.

Bryony Frost heads out for her first ride at Doncaster
Bryony Frost heads out for her first ride at Doncaster (Danny Lawson/PA)

“She’ll be glad it’s all over and I just hope the other jockeys can bring themselves to speak to her again now.”

King was at Cheltenham and he told Sky Sports Racing: “All credit to her with the success she’s been having on the racecourse, it’s probably one of her best seasons so far with the big-race winners she’s been riding as well.

“There’s enough pressure and tension that comes with riding big racehorses, as well as everything that’s going on in the background behind her, you can only take your hat off to her with the success she’s continued with.

“It was tough at the time of the problems going on and hearing it first hand from Bryony what was happening, you just felt powerless that nothing was being done about it. I, for one, think it’s a great shame. This should have been sorted out a long time ago – for Bryony’s sake and for Robbie’s sake. Nobody’s a winner out of it at the end of the day.

“I will be critical of the BHA and the PJA. It’s all very well the PJA coming out now and criticising, but isn’t that what they are there for? Bryony is a member as well as Robbie Dunne, why were they not there to help and stop it from getting to this stage?

“Full marks to Bryony, all the way through it she has carried herself well and her riding on the track is proof of the pudding. She’s had some very hard times and one has to feel for her that she’s going to have some more hard times within the weighing room for being honest and standing up for herself.”

Robbie Dunne leaving the British Horseracing Authority Headquarters on Thursday
Robbie Dunne leaving the British Horseracing Authority Headquarters on Thursday (Yui Mok/PA)

Venetia Williams, also at Cheltenham where she saddled a winner, has been a big supporter of Dunne in the past.

“It is what it is and we’ve all got to look and learn and move on,” she said.

“It’s obviously a sad period of time for everybody involved. I don’t want to be saying what’s right and wrong, it is what it is.”

On whether she’d contacted Dunne since the result, she added: “I’ve sent him a message, but I haven’t spoken to him since.”

Trainer Lucinda Russell, partner of Peter Scudamore whose son, Tom, appeared as a witness for Dunne, said: “I think racing is a fantastic sport and everyone is very supportive of each other.

“As a woman in racing I’ve never heard any bias, bullying or people being rude about me.

“I think it is a very inclusive sport. I’m sorry things have happened, but I’ve certainly never seen anything.

“I suppose being up north we don’t really see her (Frost) very much. She’s a very good jockey.

“I think the jockeys are a very close-knit team. We’re talking about a sport here.”

Peter Scudamore added: “It’s very sad. Nobody comes out with any credit from this.”

Jockey Charlie Deutsch spoke out on how hurt the weighing room is after the BHA counsel Louis Weston described the culture in there as “rancid”.

Deutsch told ITV Racing: “The BHA comments – there’s not one person in the weighing room that is rancid and there’s not a rancid atmosphere.

“There’s a lot of intelligent, kind, caring people in there and it’s affected them hugely.

“I think it’s important to let people know everyone is an individual character and they’ve tarnished everyone with the same brush. There was no need for it and it’s upset a lot of the jockeys.”

Former rider Ruby Walsh thinks the weighing room has
Former rider Ruby Walsh thinks the weighing room has “stopped working” (Simon Cooper/PA)

ITV pundit and former rider Ruby Walsh believes the weighing room has “stopped working”.

He said: “Based on the evidence surrounding this case, to say that the culture is rancid is an easy accusation to make. Do I believe that’s the culture of the entire weighing room? Most certainly not.

“That said, you have a room full of competitors and rivals. They’re not all friends, they never will be nor should they be, they are all competitors, but they represent the image of the sport and they have to uphold that. There will be rows but at times that means somebody has to tell somebody else to sit down and shut up. That doesn’t appear to have happened here and that’s what went wrong.

“‘I’m sorry’, that’s part of any altercation and in sport they will always happen but you have to go back and apologise. They’re simple words and also somebody then has to reassure the person who was heckled not to worry about it. That’s how the weighing room worked, that is how it should work but it stopped working, and that is the problem.”

Jockeys make their way ahead of the fourth race at Cheltenham on Friday
Jockeys make their way ahead of the fourth race at Cheltenham on Friday (David Davies/PA)

Jon Holmes, of the PJA, was at Cheltenham also and said: “I understand how it’s been portrayed in the media and so on, and I understand the reasons behind that. Of course I do, I’d be stupid if I didn’t.

“What I can tell you is that in the main these are professional, hard-working, decent people and there is obviously, in this case, there may be isolated incidents. I’m not going to go into that because there may be an appeal going, and we also have to look forward to where we’re going to.

“I accept that she felt bullied, absolutely, and as I say, this is subject to appeal, so I can’t go into the case, but of course I accept it. She’s one of our members, we offered help in the first place to her, through Dale (Gibson) and through Paul (Struthers). “

Honeyball looking to headgear to reignite Jepeck spark

Anthony Honeyball hopes the addition of cheekpieces and a tongue tie can help Jepeck bounce back to form and secure back-to-back victories in the Unibet Veterans’ Handicap Chase at Sandown.

The 12-year-old will bid to open his account for the season by repeating his success of 12 months ago in the three-mile final of the veterans’ series.

After pulling up over course and distance in November on his return to action, Jepeck suffered the same result on his most recent outing in last month’s Welsh National Trial at Chepstow.

Honeyball said: “He seems in good form at home – we’ve had this race in mind since he qualified at Carlisle at the end of last season and we have gone through similar paces to end up in the final.

“Last season he was coming into the race off some pretty good efforts over hurdles and his confidence was sky high.

“His two runs this season have been nothing to get excited about, but hopefully the addition of cheekpieces and a tongue tie can spark him up.

“He is back down to the same mark as last year’s race, but I think it is a tougher race this year. There are no signs at home to suggest why he won’t run well.”

Crosspark has not won since landing the 2019 Eider Chase at Newcastle and has finished second in his three starts so far this season.

Caroline Bailey, trainer, said: “Crosspark is fit and well and he goes there in good form from his last run at the track.

“He has gone up 6lb since the start of the season as he is running so well, but you can’t ignore that (the rise) is frustrating when they aren’t winning.

“The handicapper thinks he is still improving from 10 to 11, but whether he has too much weight, only time will tell.

“He won’t particularly like it if it becomes sticky, but it was pretty horrible last time and he ran well and we know he stays well.”

Potters Legend will be out to gain a second success this season having made a winning return at Warwick (Adam Davy/PA)
Potters Legend will be out to gain a second success this season having made a winning return at Warwick (Adam Davy/PA)

Lucy Wadham expects recent Cheltenham runner-up Potters Legend to have no problems handling the testing conditions.

She said: “I thought we were going to get there at Cheltenham, but both he and third probably helped the winner pick up. However, he ran on well to the line.

“This race has been in the back of our mind, but he would have probably run at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day, so it’s plan B.

“He is probably as good now as he has ever been as he has just matured as a chaser. He is a very strong horse, so he pretty much handles any ground.”

Sametegal and Sam Twiston-Davies (right) gets up to win the 2016 Greatwood Gold Cup at Newbury (Jonathan Brady/PA Images)
Sametegal and Sam Twiston-Davies (right) gets up to win the 2016 Greatwood Gold Cup at Newbury (Jonathan Brady/PA Images)

Paul Nicholls believes a day out hunting has sharpened up Sametegal, who will be seeking a first success since the 2016 Greatwood Gold Cup at Newbury.

“This veterans’ race has been the target for Sametegal ever since he finished sixth in the Grand Sefton Chase over the National fences at Aintree,” said Nicholls in his Betfair column.

“He is so consistent he doesn’t get much help from the handicapper and he ran as well as ever when a close third behind Step Back at Sandown over three miles early in November.

“Sametegal loved his day out with the Blackmore and Sparkford Hunt the other day. I expect him to run his usual honest race, though he does find it hard to win.”

Sir Ivan has run well in both starts over two and a half miles this season, however trainer Harry Fry expects the 11-year-old to be equally effective stepped back up in trip.

Fry said: “He’s been running consistently well this season, which has always been his downfall really because he never moves much in the handicap.

“He ran his best race over fences in a long time the last day at Leicester.

“Obviously this is a step back up in trip, but he’s got form over the distance and takes his chance.”

Bryony Frost warms up for Frodon date with Fakenham winner

Bryony Frost will be hoping her victory aboard Martello Sky at Fakenham is a sign of things to come when teaming up with Frodon in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase on Boxing Day.

The 25-year-old, who will be seeking a second Grade One on the 2019 Ryanair Chase hero at Kempton on Saturday, made her only ride of the day a winning one in the Vote Hollie Doyle Sports Personality 2020 Mares’ Maiden Hurdle.

Picking up well for pressure, the Lucy Wadham-trained four-year-old met the last on a good stride before defeating Allavina by three and a quarter lengths to make it three wins from as many visits to the Norfolk track.

Frost said after her success aboard the 11-8 favourite: “I couldn’t quite hold my position, but the ground is better down the inside and we had to sit and suffer for a minute. The last, she saw it, measured it and pinged it carefully and she went away very well.

“She is very clever and is nimble and balanced for a young mare. She also has a great turn of foot.

“It is brilliant to get another winner on the board and her owners are all local. I’m sure they will pop a bottle of champagne for her.”

Although Frodon is a general 20-1 chance to strike gold in the King George, Frost reports the Paul Nicholls-trained eight-year-old to be in good order ahead of his return to Grade One company.

She said: “Frodon is squealing and in good health at home. The ground was very tacky between the fences at Aintree (last time out) and I know some people say I’m making excuses, but it’s a race that didn’t happen for us.

“We will push it under the carpet and he has come out of it great. So we will take our chances.”

Archie Watson is better known for his exploits on the Flat, but Juge Et Parti enhanced his healthy strike-rate at the course when bouncing back to form to land the British Racing School Handicap Hurdle by five lengths.

The Lambourn handler said of the 14-1 shot: “I’ve actually got a very good strike-rate here. Bazarov, Premier D’troice and this lad have won here.

“He has been through a lot this horse. He had a fractured tooth which then ended up developing a big sinus infection. He has come out of it well and it his first run since.

“He obviously had an almighty headache which we have relieved and he has come up and won it well. Brodie (Hampson) has given him a great ride.”

Niall Houlihan equalled his best-ever seasonal total of seven winners aboard the Gary Moore-trained Gorham’s Cave (9-2), who claimed the Fakenham Skips Supporting EACH and RBL Handicap Hurdle by nine and a half lengths.

Houlihan, deputising for Josh Moore, said: “It was probably too commanding (how far he won). I didn’t realise how far clear I was until I got to the last hurdle.

“He really enjoyed it around there today. His hurdling improved throughout the trip. He is a very athletic horse and has taken to it well.”

Useful Flat stayer Diocletian (100-30) gave Classic-winning handler Andrew Balding his first winner at the track when prevailing by 10 lengths in the Christmas Holidays Maiden Hurdle.

Winning jockey Page Fuller said: “That is definitely the most mature he has been over hurdles. He settled well and you could ride a race on him today.

“He had four nice horses in front of him at Newbury last time and I’d like to think off the back of that run he can go on to bigger and better things.”