Jimmy Frost recalls 1989 win as daughter Bryony prepares for Grand National

Race winner Yala Enki ridden by Bryony Frost at Taunton Racecourse in January 2020.

Race winner Yala Enki ridden by Bryony Frost at Taunton Racecourse in January 2020. - Credit: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

In Grand National week the Torbay Weekly was fortunate to hear the memories of local trainer Jimmy Frost, who rode the winner of the great race in 1989.

Those recollections are like it was yesterday and Jimmy is hoping that daughter Bryony, who rides Yala Enki in this year’s renewal, will have cause for similar celebrations in 2021.

Jimmy has a telepathic memory of the events of that week in 1989.

Jimmy Frost being led in on Little Polveir after winning the Grand National in 1989.

Grand National winning jockey and trainer Jimmy Frost being led in on Little Polveir after winning the Grand National in 1989. - Credit: PA

He recalls riding at the track for the first time in the Topham Trophy two days before the great race.

His mount General Chandos didn’t jump especially well but Jimmy was relieved to have survived the course to finish third.

He was hoping his scheduled ride on Little Polveir in the big race on Saturday would be a little smoother.

He took solace from the fact that whereas it was his own first ride in the Grand National, it was his partners fifth attempt and he had come very close in 1988 when only falling at Valentines Brook on the second circuit when in the lead under Tom Morgan.

Most Read

Jimmy felt his chances were much stronger than the 28/1 being offered by the bookmakers.

Before that, however, he had to return to the South West to both ride at Exeter on Friday and before that collect his new car from local dealership A J Blackler, which he would then use to drive back to Aintree on Friday night.

Jimmy takes up the story: 

"Friday was a very difficult day. I got beaten by a very inexperienced rider on a well fancied horse of Toby Baldings called Farm Week that Toby expected to win.

"I was disappointed and when heading straight after racing on the long drive back to Liverpool with fellow jockeys Lorna Vincent and Jamie Railton, I pulled off at Taunton to have a conversation with Toby.

"He was a fiery character and clearly thought that I should have won and gave me an enormous rollicking for getting beaten.

"I felt that low that if Lorna and Jamie hadn’t been with me, I may have simply turned around and headed home. I couldn’t let them down being the driver.“ 

Fortunately, Jimmy got back in the car and continued the drive to Warrington where he was staying the night before and was scheduled to be part of a Toby Balding Racing Club night in the hotel with fellow jockey Richard Pitman and TV personality and racing club patron Henry Kelly.

That wasn’t the end of the drama however. 

Jimmy recollects: “We were a little late on arriving into Liverpool and missed a red light and were soon pulled up by a local policeman.

"Fortunately, he was a racing fan and recognised us as jockeys and after a quick chat in which he asked me about Little Polveir's chances he let us go on our way without a fine.

"I often wonder whether he backed him the following day.

“Therefore, it was pretty tense when we arrived at the Racing Club event.

"Toby was clearly still unhappy about the earlier defeat at Exeter but also uptight about the following day when Little Polveir was only a minor act.

"The two stable stars Beech Road and Morley Street were both also on the card in important supporting races. I was riding Morley Street and was left in no uncertain terms that defeat was not an option.” 

From a desperately bad Friday, Saturday couldn’t have gone any better.

Toby Baldings mood was immediately enhanced after the victory of Beech Road and he was quite relaxed on mounting Jimmy onto Little Polveir with no great expectations.

Jimmy takes up the story: “Little Polveir gave me a dream ride. He didn’t make a mistake all the way around and I never felt under pressure at any stage and felt that we were going to win a long way out.

"For my first ride in the National, it was remarkably plain sailing. It was all about the experienced horse knowing his way around. I just had to guide him.”

This typical Frost modesty was even harder to contain in the race after when Morley Street, a horse that was to become so important to Jimmy’s later career, was a comfortable victor and gave signs of the promise that was to be later fulfilled in the Champion Hurdle.

The day ended with a double for Jimmy and a treble for Toby who was a much happier and calmer man than the one Jimmy encountered on Friday.

They were, in reality, a great partnership and Jimmy continues to be in touch with now deceased Toby’s family right through until this day and this week always brings the memories flooding back.

Your home, however, is where your heart is and Jimmy couldn’t wait to get out of Liverpool to celebrate with his nearest and dearest.

He got back to meet wife Nikki and his nearest and dearest family and friends at the Dartmoor Hotel at Peartree. A lot can change in 24 hours!

From picking up a new car three days earlier, he had the joy of a new Citroen as part of his prize as Grand National winning jockey.

Mrs Frost would regularly seen taking the kids to school in a car branded 'Grand National winning rider'.

This wasn’t the end of Jimmy’s relationship with the Grand National and although he never won it again, he had memorable rides on Topsham Bay and St Melions Fairway in the years ahead.

Jimmy Frost and daughter Bryony with the stained glass window Jimmy had made when he built his house

Jimmy Frost and daughter Bryony with the stained glass window Jimmy had made when he built his house in honour of Little Polveir, who he rode to victory in the 1989 Grand National. - Credit: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

He sincerely hopes that love affair reaches a different level in this year’s renewal with daughter Bryony riding one of her favourite horses Yala Enki for Paul Nichols.

Asked about Bryony’s chances and any advice he would give, Jimmy said: “Like Little Polveir, he has a better chance than his price suggests. He is an exuberant horse who stays forever. 

"Yala fell on his only previous trip to Aintree when overjumping at the first and Bryony’s challenge will be to settle him over those first four critical fences and achieve a racing rhythm out wide avoided the trouble that can occur at the fences. I am hopeful she will do well.”

When asked about her main rivals, he did not feel that the favourite Cloth Cap merited his short price but did feel that course winner Kimberlite Candy was a big threat.