GRADE 1-winning rider Lizzie Kelly has announced her retirement following the news that she is expecting a baby.
She became the first female jockey to win a Grade 1 over jumps when guiding Tea For Two home in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day in 2015.
She also partnered that horse, trained by her stepdad Nick Williams, to victory in the Grade 1 Betway Bowl at Aintree two years later.
Kelly, 27, rode 72 winners in Britain during a successful 11-year career, including two victories at the Cheltenham Festival aboard Coo Star Sivola and Siruh Du Lac.
Kelly said: “I am announcing my retirement today with the news that my husband and I are expecting our first child.
“I will miss riding in races, the weighing room and everyone in it. Having two Cheltenham Festival winners is definitely something I will remember forever.
“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.”
Her breakthrough success at the top-level kicked off a hugely successful period for female jumps jockeys.
Bryony Frost, Rachael Blackmore and Bridget Andrews have each enjoyed Cheltenham Festival success in recent years, with Frost and Blackmore winning Grade 1s.
She continued: “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.
“In the time that I have been a jockey the number of female jockeys has grown enormously and I think that there are a huge amount of opportunities for women coming into the sport. I think everyone gets good opportunities now.”
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