Sunday Mirror

Blackmore is welcome hero

Britain’s best columnist on the big race


SHE has conquered Cheltenham, she has conquered Aintree, she has conquered racing.

Rachael Blackmore is already the grandest history-maker in the sporting year of 2021.

National Hunt horse racing needed a feel-good story, it needed a hero, it needed someone to step out of the closed, insular ranks and show this game could thrill and inspire the many.

It needed Rachael Blackmore.

The 31-year-old from County Tipperary could not have timed her epic feats any better.

“I don’t feel male, I don’t feel female,” she said. “I don’t feel human.”

And those trailing in her wake, those watching around the world, would have agreed.

For a long time, those who closely follow the sport have known about Blackmore, known she is a jockey of the highest class.

In forensic and admiring detail ahead of

Cheltenham, Ruby Walsh, no less, told us all exactly that.

What prophetic words. But winning the Champion Hurdle and becoming the first female to be crowned top jockey at the Festival was just an appetiser.

An appetiser for reaching one of sport’s final frontiers.

Anyone remember when there was a bit of a fuss about a woman merely riding in the Grand National?

As she piloted Minella Times to victory, Blackmore looked like she was born to win it.

The partnershi­p never seemed to be in a moment’s trouble.

No jockey looks more serene on a horse than Blackmore.

No wonder trainer Henry de Bromhead – whose remarkable year has now seen him win the Gold Cup AND Grand National – says “they broke the mould” after Blackmore came along.

Blackmore and Minella Times’ triumph was another Grand National win for owner JP McManus, National Hunt racing’s biggest supporter.

But it was one tinged with poignancy and sadness. Tragically, McManus’ daughter-in-law, 40-year-old Emma, a mother of three, died suddenly less than four months ago. The grief is still raw.

The racing fraternity has rallied and will continue to rally around JP and his family. They are a deeply caring community.

But now, beyond that community, they have one of the best sporting stories of recent times.

This is the time to celebrate a truly special moment in sporting history.

Special? Yes. Because there was a time not long ago when so many people thought this would never be seen.

For many reasons, racing has been through a tough time.

It needed a hero to come along.

It needed Rachael Blackmore.

I don’t feel male,

I don’t feel female. I don’t

feel human

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 ??  ?? FLYING HIGH Rachael Blackmore in action
FLYING HIGH Rachael Blackmore in action

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