26-12-2016 Boxing Day Racing News

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Published: 3rd January 2017


It was a victory that propelled her into the limelight and also provided one of the images of the year.
Lizzie Kelly screaming like a wild banshee at Tea For Two after the final fence before powering up the run-in in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton 12 months ago.
At the age of just 22 she became the first woman to win a Grade One chase in Britain.
That landmark victory was supposed to be the springboard to greater things. And it seems like that is the case, too.
Kelly and Tea For Two stand on the cusp of the big time. Tea For Two takes on Thistlecrack and Cue Card in thge 32Red King George VI Chase at Kempton today.
For her part, Kelly will become the first female rider to take part in the jewel in the crown of the British Christmas programme.
thistlecrack horse image
Scratch at that shiny veneer, however, and what should be the build-up to her biggest day in her burgeoning career is also tinged with disappointment. Not at her opportunity, but her lack of them.
Kelly has ridden just three winners this season from 53 rides.
She has moved from Neil King in Newmarket to be stable jockey for Nick Williams, Tea For Two’s trainer and her stepfather.
It is, in many ways, a young girl’s dream job to ride for the family stable, but she has ridden for just seven other trainers this season and only Philip Kirby has given her more than one ride.
That is a poor return for one so clearly talented.
As a result, British racing is in danger of losing her.
Ireland in the summer could well tempt away this undoubted fresh-faced acorn before she has grown to her full potential here in Britain.
Meanwhile, Vyta Du Roc should relish every inch of the marathon trip in the Coral Welsh Grand National tomorrow.
Nicky Henderson’s charge will be switching up to three miles and five furlongs here but his staying-on sixth in the Hennessy at Newbury last month suggests this kind of test could now be his forte.
The seven-year-old unsurprisingly found Thistlecrack far too good over hurdles during his novice campaign but fences seemed the logical step last term and Vyta Du Roc was far from disgraced in winning two of his five starts, including the Reynoldstown at Ascot.
Blaklion proved too good in the RSA Chase at the Festival so it was a good shout from Henderson to pitch him into the Scottish National in April to see just what he could do over a real staying trip, with the experiment resulting in a perfectly respectable fifth-place finish.
Vyta Du Roc was perhaps not streetwise enough to really make his presence felt and he shaped with plenty of promised when third over hurdles on his return at Aintree in November.
He did not quite have the necessary change of pace to trouble the leaders in the Hennessy but he kept plugging away for sixth, getting 12lb from Native River and he will again have that weight advantage this time around.
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