Grand National winning jockey Rachael Blackmore’s remarkable season set to continue with plum ride in France

Honeysuckle and Rachael Blackmore. (Pic: Courtesy of Cheltenham racecourse).

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Rachael Blackmore made history when she became the first female jockey to win the Randox Grand National when scoring on Minella Times at Aintree last Saturday.

Blackmore’s victory continued a remarkable season for the 31-year-old from Tipperary after also becoming the first female to win the leading rider’s title at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival with six winners. She was also the first female jockey to win the Unibet Champion Hurdle, when winning on Honeysuckle. 

“I am so lucky to be riding these horses for Henry. This is so massive. I had such a beautiful passage around,” Blackmore said after the six and a half length victory on Minella Times, from the Henry de Bromhead-trained stablemate Balko Des Flos.

“Minella Times jumped fantastically and didn’t miss a beat anywhere. I couldn’t believe it, jumping the second-last – I don’t know, it’s just incredible. When I hit the rail and I heard I was four lengths in front, I knew he was going to gallop to the line, but we all know what can happen on the run-in here. When I crossed the line, I don’t know how I felt – it’s incredible.” 

“It’s unbelievable. It’s just incredible. I just got such an unbelievable passage through the race. Minella Times just jumped fantastic and brought me from fence to fence. 

“I just travelled and jumped everywhere. I wish I could give you a better run down of what happened. I got a beautiful passage everywhere. He travelled really well and jumped really well. I thought jumping two out I was trying to hold on to a bit as it is a long way home. 

“He was just unbelievable. I’m riding all these horses for Henry de Bromhead who had a one-two there. I’m so privileged to be getting on these horses. A massive thanks to [owner] JP McManus as well. He is an extremely special horse. Ruby Walsh and Katie Walsh, I’ve asked them both in the past about riding around here and they often talk about a semi-circle in front of you and I felt like I had that everywhere. 

“That is what you need in a race like this, you need so much luck to get around with no one else interfering first of all. You need so much to go right and things went right for me today. I feel so incredibly lucky. It is unbelievable. I’m just so thrilled.”

In other news, Blackmore’s extraordinary season is set to continue when the curtain comes down on the major action in Britain and Ireland at the end of the month, as she is set to have her first ride in France’s most famous jumps race, the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris, at Auteuil on May 23.

Trainer David Cottin, who worked with Blackmore at Guillaume Macaire’s, has called up Blackmore for the ride aboard Ajas in the three miles and six furlong Grade 1.

Cottin said: “Kevin Nabet has decided to ride [stablemate] Le Berry and when I chatted with the owner and he was very keen for Rachael to ride Ajas. She has shown she has huge talent and I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t work out,” the Racing Post report.

“Rachael has shown she can adapt to any situation and the same is true of the horse, who is a good jumper and is a very straightforward ride. He is in great form, he has improved with every run this year and I expect him to be in top form on the big day.”

Cottin added: “We’re the same age. I was riding for Guillaume when she [Rachael] came over for a spell and so I met her then. It’s a great challenge for her, for the whole yard and for the owner as well.”

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