Irish-bred thoroughbred, Minella Times was saddled by Irish jockey, Rachael Blackmore, and the pair made history as Minella Times became the first horse ridden by a female jockey to win the race.
April 10th saw the 173rd running of the Grand National, the world’s most famous steeplechase, at Aintree.
Blackmore turned professional in March 2015 after riding eleven point-to-point winners and seven winners during her time as an amateur rider. Her first professional win came in 2015 after riding Most Honourable at Clonmel. In 2017, Blackmore became the first woman to win the Conditional Rider’s Championship in Ireland. Her Grand National debut came in 2018 when she rode Alpha des Obeaux who took a fall at the 15th fence and could not continue racing, and the 2019 Grand National saw her finish in 10th place. Blackmore has made a lot of history at the Cheltenham Festival. She had her first win in 2019, and 2021 saw her become the first female jockey to win the Champion Hurdle, and after finishing with six winners across the four days, she was the first female jockey to take home the Ruby Walsh Trophy for Leading Cheltenham Jockey.
Trained by Henry de Bromhead, the duo were fourth favourites in the race with 11/1 odds. It was the 16th fence that saw them move into contention before they took the lead on the final turn. Their advantage continued to increase and they won by six and a half lengths, ahead of stablemate and runner-up Balk Des Flos, also trained by de Bromhead. The only female jockey to have ever come close to winning the race beforehand was Katie Walsh, in 2012, who rode Seabass to a third-place finish. Trainer de Bromhead has been having his fair share of success too as, alongside the 1-2 Grand National win, he also took home the Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase, and Gold Cup from Cheltenham.
Despite COVID-19 restrictions meaning that spectators were unable to attend, jockeys, trainers, and owners alike cheered the winner’s home. Talking to ITV, Blackmore stated, “I don’t feel male or female right now. I don’t even feel human … it’s unbelievable.” And the success may not be over for her just yet, as aboard Ajas, she is looking to complete a famous double at the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris, on May 23 with a first ride at France’s most famous jumps race.
Edited by: Lois George
Header by: Christos Alamaniotis