“I live and breathe for my horses. If you love it, you put up with the bad days and it makes you more hungry for the better days.”
Our interview with jockey Bryony Frost, daughter of 1989 Grand National winner Jimmy Frost, comes as she is riding the crest of a wave. Awarded the Stobart Jockey of the Month prize for November, a month which included wins on Paul Nicholls’ Black Corton at Cheltenham and her father’s Triple Chief in Taunton, 22-year old Frost is quickly making a name for herself in the sport it always seemed inevitable she would pursue.
“It’s in my blood, racing. It’s not just from my Dad either. It’s my grandparents and further back. My earliest memory would be difficult to say because it’s sort of always been my life. Since I could sit up I had this toy donkey. They [her parents] plonked me on him and I wasn’t allowed off him or else I wasn’t allowed back on. So I stayed on him all day!”
While it was arguably a given that the family passion would soon become her own passion, the infant Bryony certainly didn’t need any persuasion. “I had my first ride on a racehorse with Dad on my 9th birthday. I asked him when I was about 5 if I could ride out with him and he said no because I was too little. I said ‘OK then, when I’m 9 can I?’. I plucked that age out the sky! He thought I would never remember, so said ‘yeah, yeah of course. I’ll take you on your 9th birthday.’ Cut to a scene of me jumping up and down on his bed at 5:30 in the morning on my 9th birthday!”
Frost grew up and went from ponies to hunting, to show-jumping and then on into racing. She turned professional in July 2017, with her first ride being on her father’s horse Grissom at Southwell. We asked her about how she feels as a young woman making it in the sport.
“It’s a very male dominated sport, and sometimes it’s a case of ‘if a girl messes up, it’s because she’s a girl.’ It’s nothing to do with the logistics of whether the horse got tired or it was beaten by a better horse – no. But I made sure that was never going to be an occurrence. I pushed the body hard with weights and physical training, harder than you would if you were a boy.”
Did the fact that the sport she loves is so male-dominated ever deter her in her formative years? “No, it angered me. I wanted to prove a point, break the mould and the perception that’s there.”
We talk about the stereotype of a lot of young girls being into horses at a very young age, but only a small number looking to pursue it as a career and a passion. “In any walk of life, going from hobby to career is a big step-up and it’s tough. You’ve got to go and grab it and know there’s probably going to be a lot of tears. Or you don’t do it and you pursue something that’s maybe a little easier and not quite so dependent on ‘you might not make it.’
Frost acknowledges that she’s privileged to have the family background that she does and that this has been a considerable aid during the tougher times. “I admire people who have come through all walks of life where they haven’t had a leg-up from family or friends – those that have done something completely off their own wing and said ‘I want to go down that road’, this random stretch of tarmac.”
Early in December 2017, Frost rode Nicholl’s Old Guard to victory at Newbury, her most recent victory [as of 14 December 2017]. She speaks fondly of Paul and the team at the stables, of which Morson are the sponsor. “You couldn’t be in a better place with their support. Paul has his plan and he knows how to execute it. He’s unbelievable in the way he manages everything and the whole team behind him. You find a spot in the machine and when it’s all ticking it’s really awesome. He gives you simple instructions, you know what to do and when you ride for him you know the horse is 100% and that if you follow those instructions you can have high confidence.
Frost speaks of the relationship with Morson and her sponsorship. “When you’re on your way through as a youngster, it’s really cool when you get Morson on your leg! Ged’s massively involved and he’s a genuinely nice person who wants to know how you’re getting on. It’s good to know you have his support. Sometimes there’s not a very personal connection with the sponsors but with Ged it’s different.”
“Everyone needs a friend in this world and I’m lucky that I have quite a few now. I keep pinching myself for how lucky I am. I wouldn’t be anywhere without the support behind me.”