Bryony Frost has spoken for the first time about potentially riding Milansbar in the Randox Health Grand National, describing a first ever ride in the world's greatest steeplechase as "a massive privelege".
Bryony, who will celebrate her 23rd birthday the day before the Aintree showpiece, still remembers as a child watching a video of her father winning the 1989 Grand National on Little Polveir with her “nose pressed up against the screen”.
Now she is due to emulate dad Jimmy and brother Hadden in riding in the Grand National and is due to partner the Neil King-trained 11-year-old Milansbar on April 14th, if another five horses drop out of the race.
The two enjoyed victory in the Betfred Classic Chase at Warwick in January and King was adamant he wanted her on board next month. Bryony, speaking to The Jockey Club’s website as a Jockey Club Racecourses ambassador, said: “It’s been a pretty awesome couple of weeks. Neil gave me a call two weeks ago when I was mucking out one day.
“The latest list for the Grand National had just come out. He said to me, ‘We’re 45th now. I never believed he’d get in but now we’ll probably be able to. You’re my first choice and if Paul (Nicholls) is happy I’d love to have you on him.’ I said ‘give me 10 minutes and I’ll call you straight back’.
“So I spoke to Paul and he said, yeah kick on. Paul’s the mentor of my career and he’s looked after me as an amateur and now as a conditional. If it wasn’t for him I would never have had the ride on Milansbar at Warwick in January. It’s funny how things work out.”
Now Bryony’s attentions have turned to getting Milansbar – currently 45th in the Grand National list – ready for a tilt at Jumps racing’s most famous contest. Bryony, who writes a blog for Exeter Racecourse, added: “He’s a big, impressive horse with lots of scope. He’s 11 years old and knows where he’s at and what he’s capable of so who could ask for a better partner?
“Jockey Club Estates have put some Grand National fences in at their Lambourn training grounds so we’ll take him there in a few days’ time and give him a pop over them.
“We obviously still have to keep our fingers crossed that another five horses come out but just to have a chance to even ride in it is a massive privilege and what every jockey wants. It’s fantastic. This time last year I was still an amateur and if you’d told me I’d have a ride in the Grand National on Milansbar I’d have thought you were mad!”
While it is too early to be thinking about race tactics, Bryony will be speaking to her father about the National for advice.
She went on: “You need some luck and you need to stay out of trouble. The thing you have to remember is everyone deserves to be on that line up and you’re all lining up with an equal chance. It doesn’t matter whether you’re 100-1 or not. Anything can happen in the race.
“I’ll definitely walk the course with Dad on the morning of the National. We did it last year when I had a ride in the Foxhunters up there on Pacha Du Polder. He was telling me about different fences and gave me loads of advice. Then when you’re out there in the race itself you think, ‘Yeah he was right about that and that’.
“I remember years ago I was at home and my dad got all these (video) cassettes out. It was a damp afternoon and I was about 15. I was going through them all. Races from Newton Abbot and stuff. Then I remember seeing this one with a sticker on it saying ‘Little Polveir’. It was the tape of the Grand National dad won. I was about 15 and had my nose pressed up against the screen. It had everything. All the stuff before the race and the race itself.
“It gave me goosebumps. It wasn’t my achievement but I was so proud of him. I knew then and I know now that if I have half the career Dad had then I’ll be delighted.
“For the time being we’re just keeping our fingers crossed that Milansbar gets in and I’m looking forward to having a sit on him and schooling him over the green fences at Lambourn. Then we’ll take things from there.”