Jockey Lizzie Kelly is hoping to secure a win on Espirit De Somoza at this year’s Fred Winter’s juvenile hurdle at next week’s Cheltenham Festival.
Kelly, who became the first woman in 33 years to ride in the prestigiuous Gold Cup race in 2017, finished fifth in last year’s juvenile hurdle on Diable De Sivola after turning down the chance to ride the eventual winner Flying Tigers.
Kelly rode Espirit De Somoza to victory at 20-1 at the Chatteris Fen Juvenile hurdle at Huntington in January.
“I’m riding Esprit De Somoza, who I think is possibly one of the nicest horses I’ve sat on in terms of being a young horse and knowing his job,” Kelly told Racing UK.
“That run at Sandown (fifth behind Sussex Ranger) was amazing, I ride loads of horses first time out and that was quite incredible.
“The day at Huntingdon showed the improvement had come and I was very pleased with the run at Taunton the last day.
“He hadn’t had an easy run at the race and I think he’ll just keep improving. He needs to improve to win the Fred Winter, which I think he’s going for, but I think everything is in his favour.”
Who is Lizzie Kelly?
Born in 1993, Devon-based Kelly became the first woman to ride a Grade One winner in the UK when she saddled Tea for Two to victory at Kempton on Boxing Day in 2015.
She won her second major race – a handicap hurdle – at Aintree two months later on the same horse.
After becoming the first woman to ride in the Gold Cup since Linda Sheedy in 1984, Kelly was unseated at the second fence on Tea for Two at last year’s event.
The pair get the chance to redeem themseleves when they pair up again in the big race on the final day of the festival on Friday.
The four-day meeting at Prestbury Park gets underway on Tuesday.