RACHAEL BLACKMORE, JOCKEY
With more than 20 wins at home so far this season, Rachael Blackmore (27) from Killenaule, in Co Tipperary, is one of the hottest names of either gender in horse racing right now. Despite the painful injuries and punishing hours, the country’s only female professional jumps jockey says there’s nothing she’d rather do. Things definitely started going better for me since I turned professional two years ago. I’m riding a lot more. It is obviously a very full-on job. There are only about 10 days in the summer with no racing. In summer, you could be up at seven, riding out, and racing in Ballinrobe that evening, and you mightn’t get home till midnight. It doesn’t really feel like a job, to be honest, because it’s something I love doing.
My biggest win to date was on a horse called Abolitionist for Ellmarie Holden at the Leinster National last month. He’s hopefully going to run in the Irish National so that would be very exciting.
This sport is so psychologically challenging. One minute, you can be after riding a winner; the next minute, you 15 April 2017 could go out and get a fall at the first, and be in the back of an ambulance. When things are going well, it’s great. If you’re not riding winners, it’s different.
To take yourself from one end of the spectrum to the other is a challenging thing. A lot of the time when you win, if you’re on something that is kind of meant to win, you’d just be relieved. Obviously, if you’re riding a horse who’s well fancied in a race, you might feel a bit more pressure, but you’d be trying not to let the pressure get to you. I think you can get too wound up in all that kind of stuff. Essentially, your job is to go out and to ride the horse. It’s a lot easier once you get up in the parade ring and head on out to do the job.
Getting injured is part and parcel of it. I’ve broken my collarbone and both my wrists riding. If you’re dwelling on it too much, you’re probably in the wrong sport.
When I’m not working, like every girl, I like to get dressed up and go places. Normally, you’d just be in your riding-out stuff.
My biggest advice for any young jockeys out there is to surround yourself with the right people. Having a yard behind you to support you is extremely valuable. To be honest, I don’t really see any disadvantages in being female. I think Nina Carberry and Katie Walsh have proven that. They’ve done it all. There’s no stigma there anymore. If anything, being female might help you stand out. IRISH INDEPENDENT