The Sunday Post (Inverness)
Times for a change as first woman jockey wins the Grand National
Rachael Blackmore and Minella Times make history at Aintree
Jockey Rachael Blackmore made history yesterday when she became the first woman to win the Grand National.
Riding Minella Times, an 11-1 shot, Blackmore, 31, became the first female to win the iconic race at Aintree. Beaming as she faced the television cameras, she saluted her horse: “I just can’t believe it! He was absolutely sensational.” Despite her resounding win by six and a half lengths, moments before the race Blackmore had been unsure of her chances, telling reporters: “It’s the Grand National, anything can happen!” But after beating another of Henry de Bromhead’s horses Balko De Flos, which took second place, Rachael told the cameras, it had been a perfect race with perfect poise and timing round the 30 fences over more than four and a quarter miles to win.
She said :“I was trying to wait as long as I could, when we jumped the last. I asked for a bit, and he was there.” Asked how she felt as the first woman winner, she said: “I don’t feel male or female. I don’t even feel human right now. I feel unbelievable.”
It was third time lucky at Aintree for the daughter of a dairy farmer and a schoolteacher from County Tipperary who had decided as a child she wanted to become a jockey. She was one of three woman jockeys in yesterday’s race. Blackmore has really made her mark this year by notching up six wins at Cheltenham last month, only narrowly missing out on claiming glory in the Gold Cup.
The female jockey has ridden Minella Times in the horse’s last three races, with a win at Listowel handicap chase followed by two runner-up spots at Leopardstown. Minella Times, which is owned by millionaire Irish businessman JP Mcmanus, 70, who was the biggest shareholder in Manchester United, had never ridden at Aintree before yesterday. But trainer Henry de Bromhead revealed he had created some National style fences at home to prepare the horse for the course.
The legendary trainer say of Rachael’s win: “Just brilliant. A lot is down to Rachael and I’m just delighted. A super ride, she hardly left the rail. It’s the stuff you dream of.” Minella Times was one of seven horses in yesterday’s race which were owned by JP Mcmanus. Just 15 of the 40 horses actually finished the race, which was watched by 500 million people worldwide. Mcmanus last won at Aintree in 2010 with Don’t Push It.
Last year’s Grand National was cancelled because of Covid-19 and although the race went ahead this year, it was attended by the lowest number of people in its history, around 1,000, made up of trainers, owners, race officials and jockeys. Before the race started a two-minute silence was held as a mark of respect for Prince Philip.