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Meet Miss Blackmore!

Varsity Grad & Jump Jockey...

Rachael Blackmore’s extraordinary performance to win one of the toughest races in the world at Aintree on Saturday may have been the catalyst to change attitudes and shrink a gender divide that exists in most sports today.

In South Africa we have watched the exploits of the talented 31 year old with awe and wonderment.

After a short-lived golden generation of female riders here, they aren’t exactly breaking through the ranks on our racecourses – that’s the cold hard truth of it.

Rachael holds the Grand National trophy (Pic- Aintree Racecourse)

But one of the stars on the local scene, former top lady jockey Nadine Low Ah Kee – Rapson to many older racing fans – told the Sporting Post that after watching the Grand National on Saturday it was again clear that women are equal to men in the saddle.

“Brute strength is not the only answer. Many people commented on Rachael’s brilliant tactics, her awareness of where she was in the race – and her timing and said this is what she displays in all her races. And it’s what sets her apart. So I’m happy because she’s proving it’s not guys versus girls, it’s simply that we can be as good!” said Nadine, who is now SA’s leading racing television personality.

“I really can’t think that she would have to have done anything differently to a male jockey to win the Grand National. Rachael had the horse under her, and the trainer had said she had earned the ride. And that’s the main battle – getting the chances!”

A highly qualified and active horsewoman years after having retired, Nadine suggested that in general jump jockeys are ‘a different breed’.

“They fall off on average I think once in every fifteen rides! I don’t like those odds!” she laughed as she sent her best wishes to the County Tipperary-born rider, who is taking the UK by storm.

Saturday’s groundbreaking victory came a month after becoming the first member of the fairer sex to be named top jockey, winning the Ruby Walsh Trophy, at Cheltenham. She won the Champion Hurdle and finished with six winners across the four days of the popular festival.

On Saturday, Miss Blackmore rode a cracker on Minella Times.

“I don’t feel male or female, I don’t even feel human,” she beamed as she made her way to lift the trophy at Aintree. “This is just unbelievable, just unbelievable.”

Legend of the jumps, AP McCoy talked up her champion-in-waiting status after watching her ride to victory on Honeysuckle in the Champion Hurdle in March.

“She’s class,” he said. “Obviously Honeysuckle’s a class mare, but we keep heaping praise on her – and rightly so. She’s bombproof, she keeps everything simple. She makes very few mistakes, she’s got it all.”

The daughter of a teacher and a farmer, Rachael grew up on a dairy farm in Killenaule, County Tipperary, Ireland.

She started riding very young and participated in pony club meetings, hunting and pony racing. She sat for a degree in equine science at the University of Limerick, while riding out and competing as an amateur jockey.

Rachael rode her first winner as an amateur jockey on 10 February 2011, when Stowaway Pearl, trained by Shark Hanlon, won the Tipperary Ladies’ Handicap Hurdle at Thurles.

Young Rachael (Pic- Aintree Racecourse)

She turned professional in March 2015, having ridden eleven point-to-point winners and seven as an amateur rider. Her first winner as a professional was Most Honourable, trained by Hanlon, at Clonmel on 3 September 2015.

In 2017 she became the first female  to win the conditional riders championship in Ireland.

In 2018 Blackmore had her first ride in the Grand National. Her mount, Alpha des Obeaux, trained by Mouse Morris, went off at 33/1 and fell at the fifteenth fence.

Her first Cheltenham Festival winner came in 2019 when A Plus Tard landed the Chase Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase.

She then scored her first Gr1 success when Minella Indo won the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle. Both winners were trained coincidentally by Grand National exacta hero Henry de Bromhead, for whom she was riding as stable jockey. In the 2019 Grand National Rachael finished in tenth place on the de Bromhead-trained 66/1 chance Valseur Lido.

Her first Gr1 race victory in Ireland came in April 2019 when Honeysuckle won the Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final at Fairyhouse.

She finished the season with 90 winners and took the runner-up spot in the Irish jump racing Champion Jockey competition behind Paul Townend.

Honeysuckle provided Rachael with another Cheltenham Festival win in the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle in 2020.

Due to Covid-19 protocols, there were no spectators on the Aintree course to witness her historic victory on Saturday.

Speaking to ITV in the aftermath of her famous win, she thanked her parents for ferrying her around the country when she was younger, adding she is still trying to comprehend the idea that a new generation will now look to her for inspiration.

“I can’t believe I am Rachael Blackmore, genuinely,” she laughed. “I still feel like that little kid and I can’t believe I’m me, it’s unbelievable.

“I hope it does help anyone who wants to be a jockey. I never thought this would be possible for me. I didn’t dream about making a career as a jockey because I didn’t think it could happen and it did, so keep your dreams big.”

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2 comments on “Meet Miss Blackmore!

  1. Rashid says:

    So tremendously done luv it Rachael
    Keep up the gud work for our horse ppl.

    1. Editor says:

      Plse add your surname Rashid

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