History-maker Minella Times is retired
Minella Times – the horse Rachael Blackmore created history with when becoming the first woman to ride the winner of the Grand National – has been retired following a setback.
Trainer Henry De Bromhead had been hoping to get Minella Times back to Merseyside this spring for one more run in the great race but, following the setback, the trainer confirmed it was not going to be as a ‘well-earned’ retirement beckoned instead.
Owned by JP McManus, Minella Times progressed at a rate of knots in the 2020-21 season, finishing second in two of the biggest handicaps of the season at Leopardstown before powering to glory on Merseyside when coming home with 6½-lengths in hand over Balko Des Flos in the National.
Blackmore dominates the spring of ’21
Winning the Aintree showpiece on Minella Times completed an incredible few weeks for Blackmore back in the spring of 2021.
She was the leading rider at the Cheltenham Festival for the first time that year with six wins including in the Champion Hurdle on Honeysuckle, also becoming the first female to land that accolade.
Onwards to Aintree in April and Blackmore gave Minella Times a near faultless steer in the Grand National. Perhaps the only downside to that wonderful spell was that both Cheltenham and Aintree in 2021 were ‘behind-closed-doors’ events in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It was also a brilliant period for trainer De Bromhead, who had won the Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Cheltenham Gold Cup at The Festival in Cheltenham prior to landing his maiden winner in Aintree’s great race.
No luck in Aintree repeat bid
Minella Times was a 9/1 chance to retain the Grand National crown last spring but his hopes were dashed relatively early on when he suffered some bad interference at the ninth fence and was brought down.
Plans were afoot to return this year, but they have now been shelved and the 10-year-old is instead heading for retirement.
“We were hoping to have another crack at the Grand National with Minella Times but unfortunately he’s suffered a setback so he’s going to miss the race and we’ve decided to give him a well-earned retirement,” De Bromhead told the Racing Post.
“The day he won the Grand National was magic. It’s up there with one of our best-ever days in racing and one we’ll never forget. He was absolutely brilliant on the day. He jumped fantastic and Rachael gave him an unbelievable ride.”
Rachael recalls a day never to be forgotten
As always, Blackmore was keen to share the glory and suggested that Minella Times’ success at Aintree owed plenty to those involved in his preparation at home.
She told Betfair: “It’s a day I will never forget. He is such a special horse to a lot of people and now he will get to enjoy a wonderful well deserved retirement. Henry and all the team in Knockeen did such an incredible job and I will always be so grateful for that.”
Last year’s winner Noble Yeats is favourite to win the Grand National once more for Emmet Mullins at around 8/1, while Ted Walsh’s Any Second Now – third in 2021 when Minella Times won and second last year – is around 14/1 to continue that progression and land himself on the top step of the podium come April 15 back at Aintree in the world’s most famous steeplechase.