Nicholls hails hot Frost but concedes title challenge would be difficult
The talents of jump racing's new golden girl Bryony Frost were hailed by Paul Nicholls on Monday, but her main supporter and mentor outlined just how difficult it would be for her to follow in the footsteps of Sir Anthony McCoy and Richard Johnson.
Frost, quoted at 25-1 last month by William Hill to become champion jockey in the next ten years, has won many admirers for her skills in and out of the saddle and, having turned conditional from amateur in July, recently reduced her claim to 3lb.
She won the Foxhunter on the ten-time champion trainer's Pacha Du Polder at last year's Cheltenham Festival and has won the Badger Ales Trophy and Warwick's Classic Chase this season, but, while praising her innate talent and coolness, Nicholls is keen to manage her career and people's expectations of her sensibly.
"I'm her number-one fan, but it will be incredibly hard for her to be champion jockey because it's a tough job," he said when hosting the media at his Ditcheat yard.
"Perhaps one day it will happen, but it will be hard. Suppose she rode all of mine, that doesn't mean she'd be champion jockey, it doesn't.
"To be champion jockey you have to ride for everybody and anybody. Look at what McCoy and Dickie Johnson do, all the travelling."
Nicholls, whose other main riders are Sam Twiston-Davies, Harry Cobden and Sean Bowen, added: "Bryony was booked up to ride one today at Plumpton in a novice chase who had been 100-1 the last five times it had run.
"I said to her, 'You don't want to be riding that. If that goes and falls at the first or does something stupid, you can't ride Frodon or Black Corton on Saturday, and if you're off for six weeks you'll be forgotten'.
"We've just got to mind her. Bryony's got an agent and that enthusiasm, but you don't want to be doing things like that."
Asked what Frost's strengths were, Nicholls replied: "She listens, she's enthusiastic, but most of all horses run for her. It's natural ability.
"As Ruby [Walsh] was saying on the television, she's very quiet on a horse jumping. Horses jump out of her hands and she doesn't panic. She's got a lot of good qualities."
Humility is another, and the rider catapulted into a starring role this jumps season remains rooted to the ground.
"It's my job," said the 22-year-old daughter of Grand National-winning rider Jimmy Frost. "I ride horses. That's what I do and I'm lucky enough to do it, but I wouldn't be anywhere without the support. I say that constantly because it's true, I wouldn't.
"As for the pressure, I've done the easy thing and got on them. Once you're out on the track it's just you and the horse and you know your plan and what you've got to do."
Reflecting on now being a 3lb - rather than 5lb claimer - Frost, who stressed she would be lost without the backing of the yard and her family, added: "I'd love to have kept claiming the 5lb – that would have given me a great boost! But it is what it is.
"I'm improving and you're going to lose those vital pounds from horses, but you hope the experience you're gaining will prove you can carry 3lb instead of 5lb and you can keep producing winners."
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