Lizzie Kelly lands Britain’s richest handicap hurdle on Agrapart at Newbury on Betfair Super Saturday
Newbury Racecourse staged a wonderful seven-race card on Betfair Super Saturday (13th February 2016), which saw Lizzie Kelly become the first female jockey to win Britain’s richest handicap hurdle, the £155,000 Betfair Hurdle.
Jockey Lizzie Kelly’s season continues to go from strength to strength and she won the 2016 renewal of Britain’s richest handicap hurdle aboard Agrapart, trained by her stepfather Nick Williams. In December she became the first female jockey to win a Grade One chase and today became the first female jockey to win the Betfair Hurdle, which was founded in 1963.
The 16/1 chance Agrapart was always in a prominent position and took up the running approaching the last, going clear from Starchitect (David Pipe/Tom Scudamore, 16/1), who made a bad mistake at the last, to score by 11 lengths, with Flying Angel (Nigel Twiston-Davies/Ryan Hatch, 25/1) a further length and a quarter back in third, and 8/1 chance Affaire D’Honneur (Harry Whiitington/Gavin Sheehan) coming from last to take fourth.
Lizzie Kelly said: “In a way it is a surprise because of this kind of race – they are very kind of kamikaze and you have to have a good run.
“I got a good run but I have to say that this is all down to the stable staff at home. This horse is a little tricky and they have put a lot of hard work in and I think it’s absolutely brilliant that they get days like today. They are looking after really lovely animals but they do it bloody well.
“I thought he was unexposed today. He had a lovely weight and I thought that people would have made more of a deal about him. He was third in a really hot Grade One and he’s a lovely horse who we have always thought a lot of.
“It’s great for him – he’s a tricky little animal but he works so hard.
“I think I ride better when I am under pressure in big races, as you soak up the atmosphere and makes you more of a warrior.
“It has been a great season and I have beaten all the goals I set myself. I am lucky that my parents are able to put me up on good horses and let me just be a jockey and get on with it. I am also grateful for the support I have had from owners.
“I have always thought jockeys should celebrate more when they win. These big days are not guaranteed. I also lost a close friend recently which reminded me that we are not invincible and are all human beings.”
Nick Williams commented: “It was a remarkable performance but he was pretty impressive at Aintree. We started thinking about this race after Aintree – he had three hurdles runs by then but we needed a fourth run for more experience and he actually ran well in the Tolworth. This was always the plan after Aintree, so it has all come right.
“He always had enough kick from the start. We knew that it all hinged on the start – we had to get a good position early and Lizzie was very much tuned up to that.
“He’s a half-brother to Afsoun with dam-lines to die for. It’s a really strong pedigree and Martalines love soft/heavy ground. The owners particularly wanted to run him in Flat racing for a season before coming hurdling rather than the other way round.
“Lizzie has actually won some very good handicaps, if you think about Haydock and the Lanzarote. As a rider, she has got better and better and I thought this was a nice, cool performance. She is very cool with a head for the big occasion.
“He’s not entered in anything at Cheltenham. We didn’t really think that Cheltenham was particularly his track – he is very much a soft/heavy ground horse as well – so we didn’t make any entries for the novice hurdles there.
“The Betfair Hurdle is traditionally a race for novices’ on the way up. We have come here today with a good racing weight. I will speak to the owners and decide what to do next.”
Blazer (Willie Mullins/Barry Gerarghty) could only finish ninth of the 22 runners after being sent off the 3/1 favourite.
Pictured: Agrapart (left, ridden by Lizzie Kelly) wins the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on Betfair Super Saturday.
She absolutely loves her job (how many people can say that?!) and is truly grateful to all supporters of and contributors to Eclipse Magazine.
If you are reading this she would like to say THANK YOU! (And please spread the word about Eclipse...!!)