Rachael has ‘why not?’ attitude to Aintree repeat bid

Last Updated 9 Mar 2022 | By Enda McElhinney | Commercial content | 18+ | Play Responsibly | T&C Apply | Wagering
2021 Grand National

TOPSHOT – First placed Jockey Rachael Blackmore rides Minella Times to win the Grand National Handicap 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)

Rachael Blackmore carved up the history books at Aintree last spring when she became the first female rider to win the Grand National and she’s now starting to focus on a repeat bid.

The Irish jockey enjoyed a dream run last spring, being crowned leading rider at the Cheltenham Festival just mere weeks before she caught global attention when steering Henry De Bromhead’s Minella Times to glory in the Randox Grand National.

The partnership is likely to be reunited come April 9th at Aintree and Blackmore is using the back-to-back wins of Tiger Roll in 2018 and 2019 as motivation.

Higher mark to defy

The 2021 Grand National hero, owned by JP McManus, is being aimed at Aintree again and was given 11st 4lb as the weights were revealed at a recent ceremony in Liverpool. He’s officially rated 15lb higher than when storming home under an inspired Blackmore last April.

“It’s a race you need a lot of luck in but we’ve just seen Tiger Roll and what he was able to do in back to back wins so it’s a race that anything is possible,” said Blackmore.

Asked if she could create history once again by retaining the great race she responded: “I don’t see why not?”

Fond memories still hard to believe

Though 11 months have gone by since her famous Grand National win, Blackmore is still adamant that it’s hard to absorb the magnitude of her achievement.

She has been showered with personal accolades since, including the prestigious BBC World Sports Star of the Year in December.

Reflecting on last year’s momentous win – and the prospect of returning to Aintree this spring – she says the buzz still hasn’t gone away.

“It’s incredible to be coming into this year’s race as the defending champion,” she adds.

“Every time I watch a replay or see the beautiful picture, it’s still hard to believe it happened. It will probably be down the line when I can really and truly believe it, I’d say.”

Cheltenham on the horizon first

This month will see Blackmore back in the Cotswolds for the Cheltenham Festival from March 15th-18th.

A near perfect week last March saw her win six races, the only real downside coming when her mount A Plus Tard was second in the Gold Cup behind another De Bromhead inmate, Minella Indo.

Blackmore had the choice between the pair last spring and had to deal with getting that call wrong as Jack Kennedy steered the winner home instead. She is again set to be on A Plus Tard come Gold Cup day, with Robbie Power in line to partner Minella Indo now.

While Cheltenham might be the purists’ meeting, Blackmore says her win in the National at Aintree was on a different level.

“After the race you could really feel the global appeal that it has,” she said. “Cheltenham was incredible and there was so much support and media attention after that, but after Aintree it stepped up again.”

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.

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