LUCY Alexander, due at Kelso for four rides this afternoon, will arrive at the Borders course with a spring in her step after becoming the first woman and the first Scot to win the Conditional Jockeys’ Championship at the weekend.
Alexander, already the most successful female National Hunt jockey of all time, ended the season with 38 winners, three ahead of Brendan Powell, and with last year’s champion conditional jockey Henry Brook back in third and Michael Nolan in fourth.
“It feels good to be the first female champion conditional jockey,” said the 22-year-old, who had three winners at Perth on Friday and then wrapped up the title on Saturday after Powell and Nolan failed to secure the victories needed to seal the title.
“I watch all the top National Hunt jockeys and try to learn from their riding. I hope that because I’m now the champion conditional jockey that people now perceive me as just a jockey rather than a female jockey. Even if there will always be some people who would rather use a male rather than a female jockey, hopefully this will help to get people to judge me for who I am. There are a few more girls who have turned professional over jumps as well as a lot of girls riding on the flat.”
Trainer Henry Daly and jockey Andrew Tinkler ended the jumps season on a high as Quentin Collonges notched a gutsy success in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown on Saturday.
On a day that saw Tony McCoy crowned champion jockey for the 18th time and Nicky Henderson usurp Paul Nicholls as top trainer, it was Daly’s brave little grey who drew the real acclaim of a healthy Sandown crowd.
Quentin Collonges was denied a Scottish National run as the ground at Ayr was not on his side, but his altered aim allowed Daly to consign the memory of Briery Fox’s narrow defeat to Hennessy in this race four years earlier firmly to the past. The 14-1 shot made hard work of it as he and Same Difference slugged it out up the final hill, but he eventually emerged two lengths to the good.
Daly said: “I’d imagine he’ll go for good staying chases next year, but he’s so small that the National fences would seem very big for him - it’s something we’ll have to think about.”
Willie Mullins was once again crowned champion Irish trainer and while he had the title sewn up long before the start of the Punchestown Festival, that did not stop him posting a new record tally of 13 winners over the meeting. Mullins sent out 12 winners in both 2009 and 2010 but successes for Glens Melody and Diakali in the two Grade One contests on the final day, as well as The Paparrazi Kid in a lesser heat, saw him better his own record.
Meanwhile, Harriet Graham, who is also clerk of the course at Perth and Musselburgh, has her trainers’ hat on at Kelso today where she saddles five runners from her Jedburgh yard.
She is double-handed in the Racecourse Owners Association with Soul Magic and Prince Tam among a nine-strong field and said: “Soul Magic hasn’t run since November. He is being aimed at Cartmel next month as that’s the places where all his five wins have come. Prince Tam has the trip and ground in his favour and has every chance is allowed to dominate.”
Graham also has Scotswell, ridden by lady of the moment Alexander, in the Peter & Gillian Allan Catering Handicap Hurdle, and Ballybroe and Maggie Blue in the Isle Of Skye Blended Scotch Whisky Handicap Hurdle.