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Rachael Blackmore Wins Grand National Steeplechase
April 10, 2021 – Irishwoman Rachel Blackmore (31) rode Minella Times to win the 173rd Grand National Steeplechase at Aintree in Liverpool, England on April 10, 2021. At odds of 11-1, she became the first female jockey to win the prestigious, grueling race. She is only the 20th female jockey to compete in the race that has been a British sporting tradition since 1839. Women have only been allowed to enter the National as jockeys since 1975.
“I never even imagined I’d get a ride in this race, never mind get my hands on the trophy,” Blackmore said, who as a little girl was inspired by the movie “National Velvet.”
Even though Aintree was without race goers because of the coronavirus pandemic, cheers rang out as Blackmore made her way off the course — still aboard Minella Times — and into the winner’s enclosure.
Blackmore, the daughter of a dairy farmer and a schoolteacher, grew up on a farm and rode ponies. She didn’t have a classic racing upbringing, which makes her ascent in the sport all the more inspirational.
A professional jockey since 2015, she rode the second most winners in Irish jump racing in 2018-19, the same season she won her first races at the prestigious Cheltenham Festival. She was already the face of British and Irish horse racing before arriving at Aintree, having become the first woman to finish as the leading jockey at Cheltenham March 19, 2021. Now she’s won the biggest race of them all, one that first captured Blackmore's imagination.
Minella Times went out as the fourth favorite of the 40 horses in the 4¼ mile race run over 30 huge fences. Minella Times was always near the front of the field, and Blackmore timed the horse’s run for victory to perfection, easing past long-time leader Jett with about three fences left to jump. The famous run to the line — about 500 meters from the last fence — was a procession as Minella Times won by 6½ lengths.
“He was able to travel into a gap, I seemed to have loads of space everywhere and you couldn’t have wished for a better passage. He was just unbelievable, he really was; his jumping was second to none,” as Blackmore described the race.
“He was just incredible and jumped beautifully,” Blackmore said. “I tried to wait as long as I could. When I jumped the last [fence] and asked him for a bit, he was there.”
About the Grand National Course:
The Grand National course is 4 miles and 4 furlongs long. The horses encounter 16 different fences with varying degrees of height and width. Runners and riders must navigate two circuits of the course (missing out fences 15 & 16 on the second circuit) before turning for the home straight which is the longest run-in of any UK racecourse.
The Grand National is the longest race in the UK, but it’s the difficulty of the fences that provide the real challenge to horse and rider. The fences Becher’s Brook, Valentine’s Brook,The Chair, and the Canal Turn have fearsome reputations for their extreme difficulty.
Read more about the Grand National course at: https://www.grandnational.fans/race-guide/#tab-id-6.
Read a detailed article about Rachael Blackmore at the Daily Mail: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9459987/As-little-girl-Rachael-Blackmore-never-dreamed-woman-win-Grand-National.html
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