Cheltenham parade ring in frenzy after "one of the great hours in horse racing history" 4 months ago

Cheltenham parade ring in frenzy after "one of the great hours in horse racing history"

Rachael Blackmore. Bryony Frost. Lisa O'Neill. Katie O'Farrell.

When Katie Walsh and Nina Carberry stood side by side at Punchestown last year announcing their retirements, it would have been very easy to fear for the future of female horse riding.

For years, Walsh and Carberry were the trailblazers and the standard bearers. They kept the flag flying for female horse riding for years and between the two of them, they put it up to the lads left, right and centre.

May 2018, however, and the time had come. 33 years of age the pair of them, they bowed out together having passed the post first in both of their final races.

A fitting finish for two legends of the game, but might this signal the onset of some tough times for the females in the only sport in the world where they compete against the males.

Not a fear of it.

Tippeary's Rachael Blackmore has had the season of her dreams, pushing Paul Townend all the way in the Irish jockey's championship before capping it all off with a perfect ride on A Plus Tard, recording her first ever Cheltenham festival winner on Tuesday.

Lisa O'Neill and Katie O'Farrell have been driving it on behind Blackmore in Irish National Hunt circles and they haven't been going too badly across the water either.

Bryony Frost is the big name over there with the Devon native having forged a fearful partnership with legendary trainer Paul Nicholls.

On Thursday, she went out and made history. With the female jockeys charting unprecedented levels of success this year, the 23-year-old went a step further on Thursday afternoon.

She gave her mount Frodon the perfect steer in the stacked Ryanair Chase before driving it on up Cleeve Hill on her way to becoming the first ever female rider to win a Grade One at the festival.

The scenes in the parade ring were something special with Ruby Walsh the first jockey over to congratulate her, before her family gathered in brilliant scenes for what is now becoming the sport of kings and queens.

That was followed up an hour later by Lizzie Kelly - another top female jockey - passing the post first aboard Siruh De Lac in the 4.10.

"Here come the girls," said AP McCoy fittingly on ITV.

They're here and they're here to stay.

But the moment of the day came in the Stayers Hurdle when Aidan Coleman's mount Paisley Park stormed home to win for his owner Andrew Gemmill. Gemmill has been blind since birth but that hasn't stopped him living life to the full and his triumphant interview on ITV sport saw rapturous scenes unfold in the most famous parade ring in the world.

"I think we have seen one of the great hours in horse racing history," said Ed Chamberlain.

That's what it's all about.