Lizzie Kelly, one of the most successful British female jump jockeys and the first to ride a Grade One jump winner over obstacles, has hung up her boots following the news that she and her husband are expecting their first child.
Kelly, 27, first hit the headlines when, as a 20-year-old amateur still studying event management at university, she and Aubusson, trained by her step-father Nick Williams, slopped through standing water to win a novice hurdle at Cheltenham, beating AP McCoy and Richard Johnson in the process.
“It’s probably the only winner I’m ever going to ride at Cheltenham,” she said afterwards. Wrong.
Two years later as a professional she won the Kauto Star Novice Chase on Tea For Two, who she would go on to ride in the Gold Cup. In 2017 the horse won the Betway Bowl at Aintree, another Grade One. Her Cheltenham Festival wins came on Coo Star Sivola in 2018 and Siruh Du Lac in 2019.
“I really have had a career that I could never have imagined and I’ve been blessed to be associated with the horses I have ridden,” she said on Thursday.
“The big winners are an important part of a jockey’s career; it’s what you put all your hard work and efforts into getting. The part of the job I enjoyed the most was riding young horses on their first time on the racetrack and looking after them – I got a real kick out of that.
“I will remain heavily involved in racing and pre-training. The long-term goal is to train but I am sure there is nothing that will replace riding in races.”
She added: “The girls in the weighing room who made it feel like home and the lads on the other side who were so good to me. I really have had a career that I could never have imagined and I’ve been blessed to be associated with the horses that I have ridden.”
She did not, however, completely rule out the possibility of taking out her licence again at some stage in the future.