The three biggest moments of Rachael Blackmore’s career so far
It’s hard to put Rachael Blackmore’s meteoric rise in horse racing into words. The jockey, who only turned professional in 2015 at the age of 25, has had the kind of year that dreams are made of, winning a whole host of important races and establishing herself as one of the leading lights in her sport.
As the dust settles on the 2022 Cheltenham Festival, in which Blackmore enjoyed some more stellar performances to keep her career moving in an upward trajectory, it seems a good time to take stock of the three moments that have defined her racing career up until this point.
2021 Cheltenham Champion Hurdle
Before last year’s Cheltenham Festival, Rachael Blackmore was widely regarded as a talented jockey, but she had yet to really make the step up in terms of winning the sport’s biggest races. Then came the 2021 Cheltenham Festival, and more significantly the Champion Hurdle, where the Henry de Bromhead-trained Honeysuckle was the firm favourite on the horse racing betting sites to triumph.
Blackmore had been in the saddle for all of Honeysuckle’s rides under rules until that point, and the mare was unbeaten heading into the 2021 Cheltenham Festival. It was no surprise, then, when Blackmore and Honeysuckle stormed to victory in the day one showpiece race, with the Irishwoman becoming the first female jockey to win a feature race at the Cheltenham Festival.
It was that victory that seemed to inspire Blackmore at last year’s Festival. Suddenly, she believed in her own abilities — that she had the quality to go out and win every race she took part in. By the end of the week, she’d landed six winners, taking home the Top Jockey accolade and establishing herself as one of the best in the business.
The Grand National
There is no such thing as a safe bet in the Grand National, but you just felt that there was something special about Blackmore’s form last year that have her an edge in the 2021 race. In the build-up to the Aintree showpiece, the odds for Minella Times, who would be ridden by Blackmore, seemed to shorten by the day.
The Grand National is one of the toughest races for any jockey to take part in, and to win it is a sure sign that a rider is made of more. Blackmore did just that, guiding Minella Times to victory and continuing the dream-like run of form that she’d been enjoying since Cheltenham.
Gold Cup glory
Flash-forward to this year’s Cheltenham Festival, and Blackmore faced her date with destiny in the Gold Cup. In the saddle of A Plus Tard, she had been pipped by stablemate Minella Indo in 2021 in the day four showpiece race, but Blackmore stuck to her guns this year and rode the same horse once again.
This time around, it was another De Bromhead one-two, but it was A Plus Tard who triumphed. Blackmore delivered a fine display in the saddle to earn victory by a comfortable margin, and yet another item on the jockey’s bucket list had been ticked off.
It’s amazing just how much success Blackmore has enjoyed over the last 12 months or so, and one can only wonder how successful she’ll end up being in her career. Her rise is a fairy-tale story, and proof that if you work hard enough, your dreams might just come true.
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