Blackmore’s Aintree glory inspiring more women

Last Updated 19 May 2021 | By Enda McElhinney | Commercial content | 18+ | Play Responsibly | T&C Apply | Wagering

Rachael Blackmore’s been making plenty of history for herself recently and fellow jockey Ella McCain says her landmark achievements are leading to female riders simply being ‘classed as normal jockeys’ as opposed to carrying a gender tag.

Blackmore’s spectacular spring inspires colleagues

In March, 31-year-old Irish rider Blackmore was crowned leading rider at the Cheltenham Festival. It completed a week of firsts that began when she steered Honeysuckle to a memorable Champion Hurdle victory – becoming the first female rider to win the race – and ended with her being the first woman to top the Cheltenham riders’ charts at The Festival.

As it turned out, she was only getting started. In April, Blackmore partnered Minella Times to win the Grand National for her boss Henry De Bromhead in the famous green and gold silks of owner JP McManus.

Again, another first for a female but, more so than her Cheltenham heroics, glory at Aintree was a story that truly went worldwide as Blackmore’s image was thrust into the sporting limelight.

2021 Grand National

TOPSHOT – First placed Jockey Rachael Blackmore rides Minella Times to win the Grand National Hanidcap Chase on Grand National Day of the Grand National Festival at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool, north west England on April 10, 2021. (Photo by SCOTT HEPPELL / POOL / AFP)

Male-dominated weighing room no more

Horse racing is one of the few sports where male and female participants can compete on level terms. Only in recent times have female riders begun to shine on the biggest stages.

Irish Amateurs like Nina Carberry and Katie Walsh showed it can be done, whilst Bryony Frost and Lizzie Kelly raised the bar in the UK more recently. On the Flat, Hollie Doyle is the torch-bearer after taking bronze in the prestigious BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards for her 2020 efforts.

Ella McCain has never been far from horses in her life. She’s the daughter of trainer Donald McCain, and the granddaughter of the legendary Ginger – a man intrinsically linked with Aintree and the Grand National having famously trained the great Red Rum to three Grand National wins in the 1970s.

McCain, currently a claiming rider on the Flat, says Blackmore’s successes are breaking down barriers.

“I’ve grown up watching the Grand National and to finally see a female win it was just amazing” she told ITV. “I think we’ve got to the point now where we wouldn’t class ourselves as female jockeys, we’d just be classed as normal jockeys.”

Female numbers on the rise

Frost won the Grade 1 King George VI Chase at Christmas for boss Paul Nicholls and she remains a key member of the team at his Ditcheat yard as he reclaimed the title of champion trainer in Britain this season.

Great British Racing figures have revealed a 47 per-cent increase in the overall number of rides for female jockeys at the Cheltenham Festival since 2016.

At the National Horseracing College in Doncaster, Blackmore’s landmark feats haven’t gone unnoticed.

“Girls who come here will now realise they’ve got a role model,” says Claire Edmunds of National Horseracing College.

“They’ve got someone they can aspire to be. There’s Rachael on the National Hunt scene and Hollie Doyle on the flat amongst others, so I think girls are going to realise it is achievable and it can happen.”

Lucy Cooper is part of the current intake and she was ‘Student of the Week’ at the college during April. She takes inspiration from Blackmore and Doyle – both key role models for aspiring female riders.

“I’ve always loved her and I’ve always looked up to Hollie Doyle as well. The females are doing it at the minute for us, but her win at the Grand National was like “wow, it’s our time now’,” says Cooper.

Enda McElhinney

Enda McElhinney is a racing writer with a growing portfolio of work on both British and Irish racing, with a particular fondness for National Hunt racing. While he acknowledges there have been many great runners; there has only ever been one Denman.

Latest News

Aintree unveils Grand National changes for 2024

RACING-ENG-NATIONAL Jockeys ride their horses after starting the Grand National horse race on the final day of the Grand National Festival at Aintree Racecourse on April 6, 2019. Oli SCARFF / AFP The most famous steeplechase in the world, the Randox Grand National at Aintree, is set to undergo some significant change from 2024 onwards […]

Grand National ‘looks made for Kitty’s Light’

Image via @GBRacing on X Trainer Christian Williams is looking forward to the journey that he hopes will bring him to Aintree in the spring with star staying chaser Kitty’s Light for a tilt at the Grand National. The Ogmore Castle-based handler is adamant that Kitty’s Light is ‘made’ for Aintree in the spring and […]

Corach Rambler gearing up for Kelso comeback

Image via @RacingTV on X Grand National hero Corach Rambler is likely to begin the new season at Kelso in late October, says trainer Lucinda Russell. The three-and-a-quarter-mile Edinburgh Gin Chase at the Borders track on October 28th is being touted as a starting point for a horse with Cheltenham Gold Cup aspirations this season. […]
18+ | Commercial Content | T&C's Apply | Play Responsibly | Advertising Disclosure is an independent professional comparison site supported by referral fees from the sites which are ranked on this site. The sites and information we present are from companies from which receives compensation. This compensation may impact the rankings of the sites. Other factors, including our own opinions, your location, and the likelihood of signing up, may also impact how the ranking of the sites appears to a particular user. cannot and does not present information about every betting/casino site or betting/casino site offer available.