Who was the first female jockey to win a Grade 1 National Hunt race in Britain?
The first female jockey to win a Grade 1 National Hunt race in Britain was Lizzie Kelly. She did so on Boxing Day, 2015, when she rode Tea For Two, trained by her stepfather Nick Williams, to victory in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton Park. The following season she rode the same horse in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, thereby becoming the first female jockey to ride in the ‘Blue Riband’ event for 33 years. Sadly, Tea For Two blundered badly and unseated her at just the second fence on that occasion, but made amends by carrying her to a second Grade 1 victory, in the Betway Bowl, at Aintree.
Kelly also tasted success at the Cheltenham Festival, winning the Ultima Handicap Chase on Coo Star Sivola in 2018 and the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate on Siruh Du Lac in 2019. Both horses were trained, once again, by Nick Williams.
In July, 2020, Kelly announced that she was expecting her first child with husband Ed Partridge and, consequently, would not be returning to the saddle that season and ‘in all likelihood not at all’. Nevertheless, Kelly remained involved in racing, launching a bloodstock venture, Valentine Bloodstock, alongside her husband. The couple celebrated their first winner as owners when Hamilton Dici landed a gamble in the Wigley Group Merry Christmas Juvenile Maiden Hurdle at Warwick in December, 2020.