By Jon Lees
GB: When jump jockey Bryony Frost rode Frodon to victory in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase on Boxing Day, social media went into meltdown.
Well-wishers rushed to Twitter to offer congratulations and salute the achievement of the first female jockey to win the historic Kempton prize.
The compliments poured in from fans to Bryony Frost’s account – but there was a problem, because Bryony Frost the jockey is not on Twitter.
On the other hand, Bryony Frost, a London-based 31-year-old who has never been racing, is on Twitter. And she soon found out about the success of her namesake.
“The first I knew about it was when I had an unusual number of notifications on my Twitter app,” recalls this second Bryony Frost, head of research operations at London’s King’s College university.
“When I logged on I realised that Clare Balding had accidentally tweeted me and even though she had spotted it and deleted the tweet, quite a few people had picked up on it.
“By about 10pm I was getting a lot of follows so I put up a tweet clarifying that I’m not a jockey – and this tweet got retweeted quite a lot so I had even more contacts from that!
“My four-month-old Freddie was teething so I was up basically every two hours overnight. At every feed I was greeted by a load of new tweets so it really helped amuse me in the small hours. But I admit I am not hugely knowledgeable on horse racing and indeed have never heard of the King George VI race!”
Currently on maternity leave from her role at King’s College, the ‘other’ Bryony’s main sporting interest is triathlon and her limited knowledge of racing has developed only since her 25-year-old namesake became successful.
As a result she has been regularly fielding misdirected congratulations – but even got caught out herself when a fake Bryony Frost account was created, the jockey having been ‘catfished’, to use the modern argot.
“Put it this way – the main purpose of my Twitter account is to tell people I’m not a horse jockey,” grins Bryony. “I used to use Twitter a lot for work but have changed jobs and don’t use it so much anymore – except for when Bryony wins!
“The first time it happened was in April 2018 and I get a few tweets whenever Bryony rides well,” she adds. “But Boxing Day was another thing altogether! I had hundreds of tweets and my tweet clarifying that I wasn’t Bryony Frost was viewed 350,000 times. It was quite a fun 24 hours.
“Horseracing Twitter is generally very, very nice and quite funny. Dramatically a Bryony Frost Twitter account was set up on that day and I got very excited thinking that the other Bryony had finally joined Twitter and I could redirect confused people her way. However, it turned out that this was a fake so I’m back to being the only real Bryony Frost on Twitter!”
She says she never seen any negative comments directed her way. “I was worried that in a sport traditionally dominated by men, the name Bryony Frost might attract some negative attention,” she explains.
“But I’ve never had anything less than lovely messages from people. When the fake Bryony Frost Twitter account was set up lots of people were tweeting it saying things like ‘don’t listen to the haters’ and ‘block people who say negative things’.
“Everyone seems to think it’s really funny, and so do I. Bryony had a really good run at Cheltenham one year and I had done a really hard bike ride that day so I just pretended all the adulation was aimed at me and it really cheered me up.”
This Bryony Frost has never been racing but says she is full of admiration of the achievements of her namesake, the champion conditional of 2018-19 who became the first woman to ride a G1 winner at the Cheltenham Festival when she won the Ryanair Chase on Frodon.
“I do think she is a pretty amazing woman,” she says. “To have had such success in the sport as one of only a small number of female riders is really cool. I’m into triathlon myself which is also a sport where the majority of participants are men so I sort of know what it feels like sometimes. I just think she’s great.”