Rachael Blackmore caps historic season as Minella Times wins Grand National
Rachel Blackmore https://www.irishtimes.com/sport/racing/rachael-blackmore-caps-historic-season-as-minella-times-wins-grand-national-1.4534251created sporting history on Saturday when becoming the first woman to ride the Randox Aintree Grand National winner on board the Henry De Bromhead-trained Minella Times.
The woman who gave racing a vital shot in the arm when dominating last month’s Cheltenham festival created a seminal moment in sport by winning the world’s most famous steeplechase on the 11-1 shot.
In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, the 173rd National, which took place behind closed doors, nevertheless conspired to become a groundbreaking moment that will resonate throughout the world.
What for so long seemed as fantastic a prospect as the plot for the 1944 movie ‘National Velvet’ turned into glorious reality as Blackmore guided Minella Times to a thrilling six-and-a-half length defeat of his 100-1 stable companion Balko Des Flos.
It secures the 31-year-old jockey an indelible spot in racing history, definitively transforming the face of a famously demanding sport in which the National has always represented the supreme challenge of horse and human.
Immediately pitched the inevitable gender question, an exultant Blackmore said: “I don’t feel male or female – I don’t even feel human! This is unbelievable.”
It was her third ride in the race, one of just 20 women in all to tackle the famous National fences since Charlotte Brew became the first to ride in the great race in 1977.
That was the year Red Rum cemented his legendary status with an unforgettable third victory, a moment now with competition for significance thanks to the National’s latest epochal winner.
“Minella Times jumped fantastically and didn’t miss a beat anywhere. 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,” Blackmore said.