Trailblazer Blackmore writes herself into history with Grand National win

·3-min read
Rachael Blackmore became the first female jockey to win the Grand National with victory on Minella Times at Aintree on Saturday © Pool via REUTERS
Rachael Blackmore became the first female jockey to win the Grand National with victory on Minella Times at Aintree on Saturday © Pool via REUTERS

“I want it all quickly ‘cause I don’t want God to stop and think and wonder if I’m getting more than my share.”

These are Velvet Brown’s words in the 1944 film National Velvet, but they could so easily be those of Rachael Blackmore right now, too.

For too long the actions of the character played by Elizabeth Taylor, in which she crosses the post first in the Grand National, were the only way to see a female winner of the world’s greatest jumps race.

Not anymore. Young girls now have a real superstar to look up to after Blackmore made history at the 2021 Grand National by becoming the first female jockey to win the 173-year-old race.

In doing so, winning on 11/1 shot Minella Times for trainer Henry de Bromhead, she capped a life-changing few weeks after catapulting herself into sporting stardom at the Cheltenham Festival.

Surely now, immortality awaits.

“I just cannot believe it. He [Minella Times] was an absolutely sensational spin,” Blackmore said.

“What Henry de Bromhead does with these horses, I don't know! I'm so lucky to be riding them, I just cannot believe I'm speaking after winning the Grand National. This is unbelievable.

“I never imagined even getting a ride in this race, let alone be standing here looking at this trophy. This race captures the imagination of every young person with a pony.

“I don't feel male or female right now. I don't even feel human.”

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Just as Velvet shies away from the spotlight in the Clarence Brown-directed film, Blackmore is not one for hogging the limelight and keeps her words short and sweet in front of the camera.

And modest to the last, the 31-year-old is the first to deflect praise onto the trainer she works so much with.

But, after following up becoming the first female jockey to win Cheltenham Festival’s top jockeys crown with this Aintree triumph, even she must now be realising the scale of her own achievements.

Hailed by de Bromhead as a jockey who has forced the hand of owners into giving her rides, Blackmore has risen to the very top of the sporting landscape the hard way.

The daughter of a dairy farmer and a school teacher from Killenaule, County Tipperary, she was not born into racing like many others - but instead worked her way up.

From ponies to the amateur ranks, starting as a professional to rewriting the history books time and again, Blackmore’s blazed a trail that will change horse racing forever.

And her advice, dream big. Because you never know how far you can go.

“This is an unimaginable feeling, you can't get close to dreaming about how it feels until it happens. I can't put into words how this feels,” she added.

“I didn't dream about making a career as a jockey because I didn't think it could happen. Keep your dreams big, that's the inspiration I have for you.

“I can't believe I'm Rachael Blackmore. I can't believe I'm me.”