GROUND NOT AS SLOW AS FIRST THOUGHT, SAYS CLAISSE
The official going description before racing on day one of The Festival 2018 was Heavy, Soft in places, but Simon Claisse, Cheltenham's clerk of the course, changed it after the fifth race to Soft, Heavy in places.
After racing Claisse explained: "We have had some terrific racing this afternoon. We were blessed with some wonderful sunshine, and the ground has stood up very well - the general consensus from the jockeys, and certainly the clock, that it perhaps wasn't quite as slow as we assessed it this morning, which is why we changed the going description after race five to soft, heavy in places."
Looking ahead, Claisse said: "The outlook is for a dry night. We anticipate going conditions on the track to be much the same tomorrow. A dry day is forecast tomorrow with rain coming in Wednesday night into Thursday."
Lizzie Kelly looks back on her first victory at The Festival
Lizzie Kelly partnered her first winner at The Festival earlier this afternoon on Coo Star Sivola in the Ultima Handicap Chase and the 3lb-claiming professional jockey reflected: "I still cannot believe it. I feel like I am walking really slowly through a very busy world.
"Aidan Coleman said at the top of the hill after we pulled up: 'take your time' (going back to the winner's enclosure). He came up to me and gave me a kiss and said: 'walk as slowly down as you can'.
"It was an amazing feeling - I don't really know what to make of it - I just want to wander around as though I am a punter. I might get quite a few drinks considering that I was on the favourite!
"I am not really a clever jockey - I am a very go out and do this rider - with your heart on your sleeve and let's go. Chester, my brother, who is a huge part of the set-up at home, said just take your time, don't get there too early.
"I was always there too early because I was third, jumping better than the two in front of me so I was always having to take a pull. The horse in front of me looked to be travelling really well - I thought this is the race now - there is no point trying to be clever; you just get on with it. I knew he stays so I thought, let's go. I know I can jump the last two flat to the boards. I have gone to the front too soon, but if you are going to make a decision, you have to make it - you are either one way or another. There is no point dawdling around the subject. You either get on and go, or you don't.
"I could see a challenger but I didn't have to get animated - I thought just keep going the way you are and the line will come. I was shouting and roaring but I had faith that Coo Star Sivola would just keep galloping. He felt the horse behind him and quickened slightly - he is a very good horse in that he likes winning - he will put his head down. I actually put my stick down in the last couple of strides because I had done it."
Only two women jockeys have ridden Grade One winner over jumps - Kelly and another emerging star - Bryony Frost. Kelly is the first woman to achieve success at The Festival when riding as a professional.
In total, 12 women have ridden winners at The Festival. The first was Caroline Beasley, who took the 1983 Foxhunter Chase on Eliogarty. She was followed by Gee Armytage, who posted a double in 1987 aboard Gee-A and The Ellier. Katie Rimell won the 1989 Foxhunter Chase, Polly Curling took the same race in 1995 and Fiona Needham also lifted the magnificent Foxhunter Chase trophy in 2002. Rilly Goschen also won it in 2004.
In 2005 Nina Carberry rode the first of her seven Festival winners by capturing the Boodles Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle with Dabiroun. Katie Walsh enjoyed a double in 2010. Bryony Frost, Lisa O'Neill and Gina Andrews - the latter aboard Domesday Book in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Chase - added their names to the Festival victory roll in 2017.