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Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Kelly grabs the spotlight with thrilling success on Tea For Two

Lizzie Kelly celebrates as Tea For Two edges out Cue Card in the Betway Bowl at Aintree
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Some will see it as a tale of redemption and some it will see it as a breakthrough for women jockeys. But plenty will see it as simply one hell of a race.

None of the first six in the Cheltenham Gold Cup came on from Cheltenham for the Betway Bowl, but don't let anyone tell you this was anything other than a race to remember.

Cue Card had fallen three out at the festival for the second year in a row, but a fine jump at the fourth-last fence here secured him a handy advantage turning for home in a race he won impressively last year.

But that was reckoning without Tea For Two, who'd unseated Lizzie Kelly at just the second fence in the Gold Cup, much to her bitter disappointment.

Down but far from out: Lizzie Kelly and Tea For Two enjoyed a spectacular reversal of fortune after parting company at Cheltenham
He'd been beaten only a head and a short head behind Cue Card in the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day and was driven upsides his old rival three out.

The pair battled bravely up the long straight, but Tea For Two went a length up with a fine jump at the last.

Gallantly though Cue Card rallied, Tea For Two held on by a neck to give Kelly the biggest victory ever secured by a female jump jockey in Britain.

Much of the drama was lost on her nervous mother Jane Williams, who in effect trains the eight-year-old.

"I spent three-quarters of the race in the car park, trying to hide," admitted Williams, who is married to licence-holder Nick Williams.

"We had such a disappointment at Cheltenham, I thought I had him absolutely spot on that day and I expected a big run, so you can imagine we scraped ourselves off the floor after that.

"It's hard, when you expect a big run, to come crashing down at the second. It was 50-50 whether he would come here today because I felt he'd done enough. But he's been doing a lot of dressage and has been really well, very flamboyant, and we thought we'd give it a shout."

Tea For Two and Kelly jump alongside Card Card on the way to victory
It was only in the closing stages she allowed herself to watch Tea For Two's progress - and she was mightily impressed with the resilience he showed.

"I saw at the last he had his tongue out and he was looking uncomfortable and he came up for Lizzie and tried to win," Williams said. "What an amazing horse." 

Tea For Two's odds for the 2017 King George were cut to 16-1 (from 25) by Paddy Power, but future plans will wait for another time. 

"We'll just enjoy today," Williams said. "It's a surprise and we're thrilled, over the moon about it."

Betway Bowl result and analysis

He's produced time and again for me and my family. He was a dream ride and he's just class
E.W. Terms
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