Rachael Blackmore Profile
|Born||Jul 11, 1989|
Grand National winner, leading rider at the Cheltenham Festival 2021 and BBC Sports Personality's World Sport Star of the Year 2021, there is no end to Rachael Blackmore's talents.
Rachael Blackmore is an Irish jumps jockey who rode Minella Times to victory in the 2021 Grand National becoming the first female ever to win the famous Aintree race.
The classy jockey also coupled charisma with ruthless race riding to deliver six winners at Cheltenham in 2021, just one short of Ruby Walsh's record of seven victories in one meeting.
Five of Blackmore's six winners came aboard horses trained by County Waterford handler Henry De Bromhead with Champion Hurdle winner Honeysuckle arguably the best of her super six.
In taking the Champion Hurdle she had become the first female to win a championship race at Cheltenham, while her leading rider gong was another first for a female rider.
Blackmore typifies the Irish stranglehold over the top UK National Hunt meetings with her clinically efficient performances leaving the British contingent scratching their heads and scrapping over the minor honours.
Punters looking for big race winners will do well to take note of the Blackmore name in the coming years, as she continues to negate any potential gender divide through sheer skill in the saddle.
Blackmore does not come from racing stock like many jockeys but did have ponies on her father Charles' farm in Tipperary. She entered various Pony Club jumping events and graduated to pony racing, beating a young Paul Townend aged 13 at a race in Cork.
Although competent in the saddle, Blackmore ambitions as a jockey were always to be an amateur and instead she graduated a course in Equine Science at the University of Limerick.
From amateur to pro.
Much of Blackmore's landmark amateur success came with trainer John "Shark" Hanlon and the pair teamed up for her first amateur win aboard Stowaway Pearl in February 2011.
Blackmore guided the 10/1 shot home at Thurles, beating the great Katie Walsh in the handicap hurdle.
Her decision to turn pro in 2015 on the back of just seven winners as an amateur was seen as surprising but proved to be the correct decision for the jockey on an upward curve.
She had become the first female Irish jockey to go pro since Maria Cullen in the 1980's but for a few winless months, it seemed like a gamble gone wrong. Yet, a first professional win aboard the Hanlon trained Most Honourable at Clonmel in 2015 took the monkey off her back. The winning distance was a feather thin short-head.
After scraping in dead last in the 2014/15 Irish national hunt jockeys' table, Blackmore had begun the ascent that would see her enter the top two rider territory in the Emerald Isle by 2020/21.
Early big race wins
Blackmore sprung a 12/1 surprise on Abolitionist in the Leinster National Handicap Chase at Naas in March 2017. Blackmore produced a well judged ride to challenge from four out on the Ellmarie Holden trained horse to pick up a hefty €59,000 prize in the three mile contest.
By May 2017, Blackmore had picked up the Irish Champion Conditional jockey title, racking up 32 winners. She then rode out her claim as an amateur jockey in June 2017, winning aboard Sweet Home Chicago at Wexford to take her career victories to 60.
For a jockey making a name for herself, Blackmore had to pick up rides with less fashionable trainers such John Walsh, for whom she picked up a cool €59,000 purse aboard 10/1 outsider Davids Charm in the Bar One Racing Handicap Hurdle at Fairyhouse in December 2017.
Henry De Bromhead connection
Fate would have it that the Blackmore-De Bromhead connection was struck because of a taxi conversation en route to Aintree between the trainer and Gigginstown House Stud manager Eddie O'Leary.
The summer of 2018 saw Blackmore's career begin to catch fire, riding her first career treble at local track Tipperary on July 22 2018. The trio came aboard De Bromhead trained horses Theatre Dreams, Monbeg Chit Chat and Classic Theatre.
Blackmore got a tune out of Monalee in February 2019, taking the Grade 2 Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park as an even money favourite. Everything was gearing up towards a tilt at victory at the Cheltenham Festival.
Early Cheltenham success
For a jockey who had built a career from the bottom up, her first Cheltenham Festival winner was sweet aboard A Plus Tard for De Bromhead in March 2019.
A Plus Tard translates from French as "see you later" and Blackmore, in the famous red white and blue Cheveley Park Stud colours was waving cheerio as her mount skipped on for a 16 length victory.
Blackmore then registered her first Grade 1 success in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle with a shock win on 50/1 chance Minella Indo. Those that knew Blackmore's talents wouldn't have been surprised however as she guided her mount to a commanding two length victory from the Gordon Elliott trained Commander Of Fleet in second.
A Plus Tard, Minella Indo and Rachael Blackmore were to be back at Cheltenham 2021 to send shockwaves through the industry.
Cheltenham Festival 2021
Willie Mullins' rider Paul Townend was short-priced favourite for leading rider at the Cheltenham Festival 2021 but couldn't repel the onslaught of winners from the diminutive but dominant Blackmore.
As well as claiming the leading rider award Blackmore totted up over half a million in prize money for connections of her winning horses at the Cheltenham Festival 2021.
She opened up with a blistering display aboard wonder-mare Honeysuckle in the Champion Hurdle, winning by six and a half lengths for Henry De Bromhead.
The winning margin increased to seven and a half lengths in the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle where Blackmore steered 6/4 favourite Bob Ollinger to a routine victory to make it a double at the Festival.
Next up was a pair of wins in the Cheveley Park colours as first Sir Gerhard prevailed for Willy Mullins in a front running Blackmore ride before Allaho screamed home for a 12 length win in the Ryanair Chase after jumping well throughout.
5/1 seemed generous for Blackmore's next Cheltenham win in the Parnell Properties Mares' Novices' Hurdle. She was content to hold up Telmesomethinggirl in the rear of the field before making headway after two out and going on to score by five and a half lengths.
Blackmore was to cap a sensational Cheltenham Festival 2021 by taking the JCB Triumph Hurdle on Qulixios for De Bromhead and Cheveley Park Stud, bringing up a magnificent six timer that not even Townend could rival.
Her control of Cheltenham 2021 was shown in the Gold Cup where Blackmore's supreme race tactics came to the fore when boxing off the hat-trick chasing Al Boum Photo, allowing stablemate Minella Indo to strike the front.
Blackmore chased home the 9/1 winner Minella Indo on A Plus Tard, making it a superb one-two for De Bromhead.
Not content with finishing first in six Cheltenham races, Blackmore ticked off another first by being the first female rider to claim the leading jockey title at the Cheltenham Festival.
Since the wonder-mare Honeysuckle hosed up by 15 lengths in a mares' maiden in 2018, Rachael Blackmore has ridden every one of the horse's 11 subsequent winners.
While Bryony Frost has her Frodon, Blackmore has struck up a sweet relationship with the unbeaten Henry De Bromhead trained Honeysuckle, culminating with victory in the 2021 Champion Hurdle.
The prize money and quality of opposition have gradually increased since Blackmore's first win aboard Honeysuckle in November 2018 in a maiden hurdle at Fairyhouse.
That win brought a modest first prize of €6776 but after little more than a year Blackmore had collected a hefty €73,750 purse by winning the Grade 1 Grace Hurdle at the same track.
A crack at Cheltenham was the obvious next step for both Blackmore and Honeysuckle and the duo nailed the highly fancied Benie Des Dieux in the 2020 Close Brothers Mares' Hurdle.
That win set Honeysuckle up for the 2021 Champion Hurdle and Blackmore prepared by winning the Irish equivalent at Leopardstown in February 2021.
Like Blackmore, Honeysuckle showed she wasn't fazed by going up against the males and scored by a solid 10 lengths from the Gordon Elliott trained Abracadabras.
Short-priced horse backers were a tad uneasy as the 11/10 favourite Honeysuckle set out to win the Champion Hurdle on the first day of the 2021 Festival.
However there was no need for nerves as Blackmore laid out a masterclass of settling a horse and getting Honeysuckle to jump, opening up a four length lead approaching the last and leaving the field strung out for a six and a half length win from Sharjah.
She had become the first woman to win the Champion Hurdle.
Rachael Blackmore became a part of Grand National and horse jockey history, as she became the only ever woman to win the race.
Riding the eight-year-old Minella Times sent off at 11/1, she smashed all boundaries, becoming one of the greatest female jockeys of all time.
Although in the minority as a top female jumps jockey, Blackmore has played down the significance of her gender in the sport while giving a nod to the trailblazing efforts of other female riders.
The historic and successful partnership of Blackmore and Bromhead continues.
Rachael Blackmore BBC World Sports Star Of The Year
As if Blackmore's 2021 couldn't have been any better she was named as BBC World Sport Star in December 2021.
Up against a field for the BBC award that included NFL superstar Tom Brady and boxing great Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez, Blackmore came out on top in the public vote.
Blackmore had flown over from Ireland to attend the ceremony in person but was delayed at Manchester Airport.
She told Gabby Logan and Clare Balding in the studio: "I made it as far as Manchester Airport!"
Of her achievements in the saddle, Blackmore said: "I never even dreamt they could happen to be honest. It's far surpassed anything I could have ever imagined. It's just been an incredible year.
"The reaction has been brilliant, obviously for me personally they are such massive things to achieve but I think when you can bring a bit of joy to other people that makes it even more special.
"The reaction from everyone at home has been incredible and I feel very privileged to have had the year I've add."
Rachel Blackmore's mother is called Eimir and works as a teacher. Blackmore's father Charles is a dairy farmer. She has a brother called Jonathan.
Blackmore is in a relationship with Brian Hayes who is also a jockey.
She is the sports ambassador for the Kildare Village retail outlet in Ireland.
Away from racing, she enjoys baking.
Rachael Blackmore News
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