BRIDGET Andrews has celebrated many notable days in the saddle but few will mean as much as her latest success on West Balboa.
The seven-year-old provided the jockey with her biggest winner since recovering from a broken neck in the Coral Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle at Kempton Park on Saturday (January 14).
Andrews, aged 29 and based in Alcester, is married to fellow jockey Harry Skelton and spent the second half of last year on the sidelines after suffering two fractures to her C2 vertebra, another in her C6 and a crack in her T5 following a fall aboard Dazzling Glory at Warwick in April.
Despite her lengthy layoff, Andrews showed that she was back firing on all cylinders at the weekend following her power packed ride aboard the Dan Skelton-trained daughter of Yeats, who claimed victory by a short head in the £100,000 two mile and five furlongs feature prize.
Andrews said: “The broken neck was obviously a blip in the road and I’m not going to lie it was hard to get back but luckily it was in the summer and I gave myself all the time I needed.
“You all hope you never have those bad injuries and when I had the fall at Warwick I got up and thought I was okay.
“I walked around for two weeks and something wasn’t quite right but I never thought I broke my neck. It was tough but I have such a great team behind me.
“Everyone at Dan’s is so supportive and I can’t thank them enough for that as I do need that bit of confidence sometimes. I love being part of the team there.
“I had a big winner for Mr and Mrs Faulks (joint owners) on Roksana, and I’ve had my Cheltenham Festival winner (on Mohaayed) and won on Protektorat (in the Many Clouds Chase).
“This is right up there though as I’ve been second many times in this race so it is nice to get another big one.”
Equally delighted with the victory was Grade One-winning handler Skelton, who hinted that a step back up in class could now be on the cards for West Balboa.
Skelton, speaking from Warwick where he saddled a Grade Two double, added: “That was brilliant. She was gutsy when she needed to be.
“She could come here on February 11 for the race Marie’s Rock won last year (the Listed Warwick Mares’ Hurdle) and I am also very respectful that she has just put in a very big effort so if she needs a little bit more time I’ll think about that.”