On Saturday 10th April 2021 Rachael Blackmore rewrote the history books yet again to become the first female jockey to win the Randox Grand National as she and Minella Times gave owner JP McManus a second win in the iconic race.
Minella Times had been backed into 11/1 for the world’s greatest steeplechase after Blackmore rode six winners at last month’s Cheltenham Festival to win the leading jockey award.
Blackmore, who grew up in Tipperary and is just 10 winners behind Paul Townend in the Irish Champion Jockey title race on 85, described winning the race as a “massive” moment in her career.
After partnering the eight year old to an historic six and a half-length victory, the 31 year old jockey said: “I am so lucky to be riding these horses for Henry. This is so massive. I had such a beautiful passage around.
“Minella Times jumped fantastically and didn’t miss a beat anywhere. I couldn’t believe it, jumping the second-last – I don’t know, it’s just incredible. When I hit the rail and I heard I was four lengths in front, I knew he was going to gallop to the line, but we all know what can happen on the run-in here. When I crossed the line, I don’t know how I felt – it’s incredible.”
She went on to say: “It’s unbelievable. It’s just incredible. I just got such an unbelievable passage through the race. Minella Times just jumped fantastic and brought me from fence to fence.
“I just travelled and jumped everywhere. I wish I could give you a better run down of what happened. I got a beautiful passage everywhere. He travelled really well and jumped really well. I thought jumping two out I was trying to hold on to a bit as it is a long way home.
“He was just unbelievable. I’m riding all these horses for Henry de Bromhead who had a one–two there. I’m so privileged to be getting on these horses. A massive thanks to JP McManus as well. He is an extremely special horse. Ruby Walsh and Katie Walsh I’ve asked them both in the past about riding around here and they often talk about a semi-circle in front of you and I felt like I had that everywhere.
“That is what you need in a race like this, you need so much luck to get around with no one else interfering first of all. You need so much to go right and things went right for me today. I feel so incredibly lucky. It is unbelievable I’m just so thrilled.”
Henry de Bromhead
Speaking to ITV after the race, trainer Henry de Bromhead was asked what his secret is after the huge success he enjoyed at Cheltenham.
He said: “I don’t know it’s just brilliant, it’s all down to Rachael obviously, she was brilliant on him today, I’m just delighted – amazing, super ride, she hardly left the rail.
“She was just brilliant on him. It’s brilliant for the McManuses. Just over the moon. Balko [Des Flos, second] was super as well, Aidan was brilliant on him. He ran an absolute cracker as well, incredible.
“It feels amazing, it really does – it’s incredible. It’s stuff you dream of. I’ve been watching it since I was a kid. It’s amazing, I’m just so lucky.
The trainer told the media later: “It’s amazing, it really is. The stuff you dream about; incredible. Rachael was brilliant on him, and it’s amazing to do it for the McManuses. We got a lot of luck all the way around, and winged fences – it’s incredible. It looked as though Rachael had it won jumping the last, but we all know how things can change. Any Second Now looked a bit unlucky with his passage and was coming back at us, and Balko Des Flos was staying on as well.
“Balko Des Flos [second] is a class horse and just lost his form, but Rachael was convinced that he was really enjoying the Cross-Country at Cheltenham when he unfortunately came out, and it was brilliant to see him running so well for the Racehorse Club. He ran a cracker, and Chris’s Dream was going very well; he just unshipped Darragh O’Keefe four or five fences out. I’m just delighted.
“Yes, I used to dream about winning this – of course, but it was a very distant dream! These are the races you want to win. I feel so fortunate.
“We were a bit unfortunate with Minella Times through the winter, having a couple of great runs and just getting beaten, but this makes up for it!
“Yes, we schooled the horses over some Aintree-type fences – fairly makeshift things – which seemed to have helped, but Minella Times is such a good jumper anyway.
“Rachael is brilliant and we are so lucky to have her. I think they broke the mould after her; she’s tough out and brilliant – what can you say? You can see that when she joined us we have gone from strength to strength with her. She’s a fantastic rider, a great team player and just a lovely person to work with. She’s breaking through all the records.
“There’ll have to be a party now! I’ve got the old ferry trip again tonight, which is something to look forward to!”
Former jockey AP McCoy, who was champion jockey 20 years running and until today had won JP McManus his only Grand National with Don’t Push It in 2010, paid tribute to Blackmore after the race:
5:15pm Randox Grand National Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 4m 2f 74y
1 Minella Times (IRE) – Henry de Bromhead Ireland – Mr John P. McManus – Rachael Blackmore 11/1
2 Balko des Flos (FR) – Henry de Bromhead Ireland – RacehorseClub.com – Aidan Coleman 100/1
3 Any Second Now (IRE) – T. M. Walsh Ireland – Mr John P. McManus – Mark Walsh 15/2
4 Burrows Saint (FR) – W. P. Mullins Ireland – Mrs S. Ricci – Mr P. W. Mullins 9/1
5 Farclas (FR) – Mrs Denise Foster Ireland – Gigginstown House Stud – Jack Kennedy
6 Blaklion – Dan Skelton – Darren & Annaley Yates – Harry Skelton
7 Discorama (FR) – Paul Nolan Ireland – Thomas Friel/Andrew Gemmell – B. J. Cooper
8 Jett (IRE) Mrs J. Harrington Ireland – Mr Robert Waley-Cohen – Mr Sam Waley-Cohen
9 Cabaret Queen W. P. Mullins Ireland – Syndicates.Racing – Sean O’Keeffe
10 Shattered Love (IRE) Mrs Denise Foster Ireland – Gigginstown House Stud – Kevin Sexton
11 Alpha des Obeaux (FR) – Mrs Denise Foster Ireland – Gigginstown House Stud – Jody McGarvey
12 Hogan’s Height (IRE) – Jamie Snowden – Foxtrot Racing: Hogan’s Height – Gavin Sheehan
13 Acapella Bourgeois (FR) – W. P. Mullins Ireland – Slaneyville Syndicate – Daniel Mullins
14 Sub Lieutenant (IRE) – Georgie Howell – Ms G. Howell – Tabitha Worsley
15 Class Conti (FR) – W. P. Mullins Ireland – Mr Simon Munir/Mr Isaac Souede – Brian Hayes
Three female jockeys in the 2021 Grand National: Rachael Blackmore, Tabitha Worsley and Bryony Frost (aboard Yala Enki, pulled up at the 20th).
RACHAEL BLACKMORE – 3 RIDES IN THE AINTREE GRAND NATIONAL TO DATE
- 2018 Alpha Des Obeaux FELL 15th
- 2019 Valseur Lido 10th
- 2021 MINELLA TIMES 1st
COMPLETE RECORD OF FEMALE RIDERS IN THE RANDOX GRAND NATIONAL
(Ms, Miss, Mrs denotes an amateur rider) Click names for links to further articles in our Grand National Ladies series:
- 2020 RACHAEL BLACKMORE MINELLA TIMES 1st
- 2020 Bryony Frost Yala Enki UR 20th
- 2020 Tabitha Worsley Sub Lieutenant 14th
- 2019 Rachael Blackmore Valseur Lido 66/1 10th
- 2019 Lizzie Kelly Tea For Two 25/1 PU 29th
- 2018 Bryony Frost Milansbar 25/1 5th
- 2018 Ms Katie Walsh Baie Des Iles 16/1 12th
- 2018 Rachael Blackmore Alpha Des Obeaux 33/1 F 15th
- 2017 Ms Katie Walsh Wonderful Charm 28/1 19th
- 2016 Ms Nina Carberry Sir Des Champs 20/1 F 15th
- 2016 Ms Katie Walsh Ballycasey 50/1 UR 29th
- 2015 Ms Nina Carberry First Lieutenant 14/1 16th
- 2014 Ms Katie Walsh Vesper Bell 40/1 13th
- 2013 Ms Katie Walsh Seabass 11/2F 13th
- 2012 Ms Nina Carberry Organisedconfusion 20/1 UR 8th
- 2012 Ms Katie Walsh Seabass 8/1JF 3rd
- 2011 Ms Nina Carberry Character Building 25/1 15th
- 2010 Ms Nina Carberry Character Building 16/1 7th
- 2006 Ms Nina Carberry Forest Gunner 33/1 9th
- 2005 Carrie Ford Forest Gunner 8/1 5th
- 1994 Mrs Rosemary Henderson Fiddlers Pike 100/1 5th
- 1989 Tarnya Davis Numerate 100/1 PU 21st
- 1988 Penny Ffitch-Heyes Hettinger 200/1 F 1st
- 1988 Gee Armytage Gee-A 33/1 PU 26th
- 1988 Miss Venetia Williams Marcolo 200/1 F 6th
- 1987 Jacqui Oliver Eamons Owen 200/1 UR 15th
- 1984 Mrs Valerie Alder Bush Guide 33/1 F 8th
- 1983 Mrs Joy Carrier King Spruce 28/1 UR 6th
- 1983 Mrs Geraldine Rees Midday Welcome 500/1 FELL 1st
- 1982 Miss Charlotte Brew Martinstown 100/1 UR 3rd
- 1982 Mrs Geraldine Rees Cheers 66/1 8th
- 1981 Mrs Linda Sheedy Deiopea 100/1 REF 19th
- 1980 Mrs Jenny Hembrow Sandwilan 100/1 PU 19th
- 1979 Mrs Jenny Hembrow Sandwilan 100/1 FELL 1st
- 1977 Miss Charlotte Brew Barony Fort 200/1 REF 27th
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