Coming out top in the Betway Bowl Chase after a titanic struggle with the 2/1 favourite Cue Card, Tea For Two, a 10/1 shot, won by a neck, with Smad Place a further 15 lengths further back and third of the seven runners.
Kelly, the step-daughter of winning trainer Nick Williams, was gaining her second Grade One win having landed the Feltham Novices’ Chase at Kempton in 2015.
She said: “Falling [off] at the second fence in any race is never nice, and to do that in a Gold Cup is taking it to another level. The walk back to the weighing room was the longest in my life. I wanted to crawl back, but these colours are quite bright and I couldn’t quite do that. It’s been a tough road to here.
“Before the Gold Cup came into the equation we were always more confident he would run well at Aintree because he’s been winning on flat tracks.
“At the start of today’s race I wasn’t happy and didn’t feel he was travelling, but when I decided we ought to get into it he began pulling my arms out and I thought ‘grand, we’ll take a step back’. My jockey coach, Rodi [Greene] was keen to remind me that it’s a long run-in here and I ran it beforehand and agreed on that.
“My lad is as brave as a lion – you only had to look at him at the last where I didn’t ask him for that. Fair play to all the girls at home who do a lot more with the horse than I do. They spend so much time with him it’s almost annoying when we’ve got other horses in the yard.
“Mum [Jane] deals with him on a day-to-day basis and she said in the paddock before today’s race, ‘I don’t know what you are going to find today, I don’t know what is underneath you’. His tongue was hanging out and everything looked like it was wrong, and that was fine because he’s had a long season, but he’s a horse she worries about and he keeps her up at night.
“I didn’t ride a winner at Cheltenham this year, but I’ve had my reward. I didn’t appreciate the first Grade One I won, but this one I definitely do.
“That was fantastic. We were quietly confident going into the Gold Cup but our dreams were taken away from us. Tea For Two is a horse who has produced it time and time again for me and my family.
“All the people at home put in a lot more work than I do and I just get the opportunity to ride them. It was a dream ride, although I wasn’t sure how well he was travelling. He is just class.”
2.50pm Betway Bowl (Grade 1)
1 TEA FOR TWO (Jane Williams & Len Jakeman) Nick Williams 8-11-07 Lizzie Kelly 10/1
2 Cue Card (Jean Bishop) Colin Tizzard 11-11-07 Paddy Brennan 2/1 Fav
3 Smad Place (Mrs Peter Andrews) Alan King 10-11-07 Wayne Hutchinson 10/1
Distances: nk, 15
Tote Win: £12.20 Places: £3.80, £1.70 Exacta: £34.20