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Lizzie Kelly Reflects This Morning

Lizzie Kelly enjoyed her biggest victory when she rode Tea For Two to success in the Grade One Betway Bowl Chase on Grand Opening Day yesterday at the Randox Health Grand National Festival, beating Cue Card by a neck.

Kelly, who became the first woman to ride a Grade One winner over jumps in Britain when successful on the same horse in the Kauto Star (formerly Feltham) Novices’ Chase at Kempton Park on December 26, 2015, said this morning: “It was obviously the biggest win I have ever had. I have won a Grade One before but this is the Randox Health Grand National Festival. It feels fantastic and I am absolutely delighted. You put a lot of time and effort in the hope that it all goes well.

“It was great not just for me race riding but for all the girls at home, who look after Tea For Two on a day-to-day basis. When things go disastrously wrong like they did in the Gold Cup (at Cheltenham last month when she was unseated at the second fence) obviously it isn’t great for me, but also not great for those people at home who put in such a lot of hard work.

“You are aiming for one day (going into the Cheltenham Gold Cup) and then all of a sudden you are out. You want to do well for everyone involved.

“Yesterday was great. Our staff are very good and they are all my age so I am friends with them and you want to do well for them as they enjoy it so much. When I was able to turn my phone back on and look at our little group chat on Facebook, all the messages were fantastic.

“It does put a bit of pressure on you but I don’t feel any pressure riding as a female. For me it is all about how I perform as a 3lb (claiming) conditional jockey. I am happy with the way I ride, although I am always trying to improve. I don’t have that sense of having to do it for girls. It does come with the territory; if I do well it does benefit the women in racing but it isn’t anything I worry about. I don’t think you can worry about it, it would be like trying to carry the world on your shoulders.

“I just try to improve myself and I have put in a lot of hard work, maybe more than if I had been a male. I have been to a lot of places, going to different yards, seeing different people and having to be brave and say ‘actually I am not just here to ride your donkeys up and down the gallop, I am a capable rider and I want to ride the proper horses please’. Lots of things like that where you have to push yourself – push yourself internally and push yourself on other people without being too irritating.

“I think realistically I certainly want to be riding in five years’ time. I have done three years and I always said I would like to be around for 10 years that puts me around the 30 (years old) mark and that’s when I think family will kick in. I might never get married, I might never have children so I could be here in 20 years. Who knows? I look at my career as I will be here for the foreseeable future. You see jockeys who have been around for such a long time and things sometimes don’t go right for them but they have that depth of experience where they can just say ‘I have been here before’. I think experience is the biggest asset to some jockeys. I won’t be retiring any time soon.

“I don’t think this is [yesterday’s win] going to make a huge difference. I don’t think someone is going to say ‘OK I will always use her’, though you always hope it might happen. There were six other races yesterday and six other winning jockeys so you are still battling. I really respect loyalty so I don’t feel comfortable going in and saying ‘look at me, give me rides’ when they are already using a conditional, when they are sticking by someone. If I do get more rides, it would be fantastic but I am not na├»ve enough to think that I will.

“I was in town last night. I am not riding today so I went out at 90 miles an hour, so maybe I will have to go into the sauna and sweat it out. I definitely celebrated last night! I am on The Opening Show this morning and I have booked myself in for make-up. I would love to be in the media afterwards [finish riding]. I feel very comfortable with the media, I work for BBC 5 live and they have taught me an awful lot. I could definitely see myself as Luke Harvey in a few years! It is something I thoroughly enjoy.”