Day three at the Cheltenham Festival produced one of the most memorable moments in the history of this great fixture when Bryony Frost, on board the Paul Nicholls-trained Frodon (9/2), became the first female jockey to win a Grade 1 race at the Mecca of National Hunt racing.
Then, half an hour later, trainer Emma Lavelle sent out the heavily backed favourite Paisley Park (11/8f) to win a pulsating renewal of the Grade 1 Sun Racing Stayers’ Hurdle.
Always prominent in a high-quality renewal of the Ryanair Chase, Frodon looked beaten as Venetia Williams’ 33/1 shot Aso forged into the lead at the final fence.
But, with history beckoning, Frodon and Frost conjured up a herculean effort to regain the lead, eventually scoring by a length-and-a-quarter before receiving one of the most enthusiastic receptions for any Cheltenham winner in recent years.
There were three cheers as well for Paisley Park as the Aidan Coleman-ridden hot favourite surged through from off the pace to lead at the last in the Stayers’ Hurdle.
A blunder there momentarily looked as though it might cost him the race, but the Andrew Gemmell-owned gelding soon recovered and stayed on powerfully to deny the revitalized Sam Spinner (33/1) by two-and-three-quarter lengths. Former champion hurdler Faugheen (4/1) ran a marvelous race to hold on for third.
Capping a great day for the ladies, Lizzie Kelly rode a winner at the Cheltenham Festival for the second successive year when she made all on the Nick Williams-trained 9/2 shot Sirrah Du Lac in the Grade 3 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase.
The day started with a stirring battle for the Grade 1 JLT Novices’ Chase, in which old rivals Defi Du Seuil (3/1f) and Lostintranslation (4/1) met for the third time this season. On this occasion it was the Barry Geraghty-ridden Defi Du Seuil, trained by Philip Hobbs, who prevailed by two-and-a-quarter lengths.
Geraghty was back in the winners’ enclosure 40 minutes later, in the same JP McManus silks, when the heavily punted 4/1 favourite Sire Du Berlais powered up the hill to peg back rank outsider Tobefair (40/1) in the Grade 3 Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle.
Later in the day, Willie Mullins saddled a lon- priced 1-2 in the Grade 2 Tattersalls Mares’ Novice Hurdle when Eglantine Du Seuil (50/1) just edged out stable companion Concertista (66/1) by a short-head, while the concluding Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase went to the Ted Walsh-trained Any Second Now (6/1), ridden by top Irish amateur rider Derek O’Connor.