Superhero Rachael makes Aintree history as the first female jockey to win world’s greatest race on 11-1 shot Minella Times
RACHAEL BLACKMORE wrote the latest and most momentous chapter in the Grand National’s 182-year history when triumphing aboard Minella Times.
Coming into yesterday’s race, 17 female jockeys had ridden 31 horses in the world’s most famous steeplechase at Aintree since Charlotte Brew partnered 200-1 outsider Barony Fort in 1977 – all without success.
But Blackmore smashes glass ceilings for fun, and racked up a new first as 11-1 chance Minella Times beat 100-1 outsider Balko Des Flos ( far right) to lead home an incredible 1-2 in the four-and-a-quartermile marathon for her boss, Co Waterford-based
Henry de Bromhead. Fighting back tears after the ground-breaking sixand-a-half-length victory, Blackmore said: “This is the Grand National, and I can’t believe we’ve won!
“His jumping was second to none and he travelled well. You couldn’t wish for a better passage round in a race.
“I heard I was four lengths in front and I knew that he was going to gallop to the line. But we all know what can happen on the run-in here.”
County Tipperary-born Blackmore, who rode her first winner in February 2011, had to wait six months for her first success as a professional after leaving the unpaid ranks in March 2015.
But her partnership with De Bromhead has taken
De Bromhead has taken the pair to dizzy heights, including a Champion Hurdle win at last month’s Cheltenham Festival, where she topped the jockeys’ table.
Blackmore does not consider herself a standard-bearer for her gender – Katie Walsh’s third aboard Seabass in 2012 was the previous best placing for a female rider
– but added: “It is a big deal – 100 per cent – I don’t know how to put that big deal into words myself.
“I don’t feel male or female right now – I don’t even feel human!”
The result was not only a resounding triumph for Ireland – responsible for 10 of the first 11 finishers – but also represents another career peak for De Bromhead who, in addition to landing Cheltenham’s Champion Hurdle, captured the Queen Mother Champion Chase before saddling the first two home in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The trainer, winning the National for the first time, said: “It’s stuff you dream about – it was a distant dream! Anyone in the jumping game – these are the races you want to win.”
De Bromhead added of his stable jockey: “Rachael is brilliant, isn’t she? We’re so lucky to have her.
“They broke the mould after her. She’s brilliant, tough – what can you say?
“She’s a fantastic rider and a great team player – just a lovely person to work with.”
Minella Times carries the colours of JP McManus, the Irish billionaire who gained his only previous National victory with the Sir AP McCoy-partnered Don’t Push It in 2010.
The family suffered a tragedy in January when McManus’ daughter-inlaw Emma died suddenly at the age of 40.
“It’s been a tough year for their family, so I hope this can make things easier on them,” Blackmore said.