Rachael Blackmore’s Cheltenham winners: Nine sublime rides
All nine of Rachael Blackmore’s Cheltenham winners
“I don’t feel male or female right now – I don’t even feel human. This is just unbelievable”
Those were the words that Blackmore spoke in utter disbelief moments after crossing the line as the winner of the 2021 Grand National. That now infamous horseback interview with Matt Chapman was seen around the world as Blackmore went from talented jockey to global sporting superstar.
Blackmore’s victory in the Grand National capped a remarkable 2021 for the Tipperary rider, who also became the first female to claim the leading rider award at the Cheltenham Festival, partnering six winners across the course of the four-day showcase.
She has entered the winner’s enclosure nine times in total at the Cheltenham Festival and here we take a look at all of Rachael Blackmore’s Cheltenham winners.
A Plus Tard (Henry de Bromhead) – Centenary Novices’ Handicap Chase, 2019
Blackmore first got on the scoresheet at the Cheltenham Festival on the opening day in 2019 when her long-time ally A Plus Tard stormed to an emphatic 16-length success in the novice handicap, making light work of a mark of 144.
Sent off 5/1 favourite, A Plus Tard was gone and out of sight after the second-last fence, with Blackmore able to sit back and relax as the duo cruised up the famous Cheltenham hill for a breakthrough victory.
Minella Indo (Henry de Bromhead) – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, 2019
Blackmore didn’t have to wait long for her second success at the Cheltenham Festival, with Minella Indo making virtually all to break his maiden tag at a whopping 50/1 in the three-mile slog for the young stayers.
Not only was this the first time Minella Indo entered the winner’s closure over hurdles, it was also Blackmore’s first Grade One success.
Honeysuckle (Henry de Bromhead) – Mares’ Hurdle, 2020
Blackmore arrived at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival with an envious book of rides and as one of the favourites for the leading rider award.
However, the week was ultimately a frustrating one with a catalogue of near misses and placed efforts.
She did though hit the target aboard Honeysuckle and produced the most tactically astute ride to slip up the inside of fellow rider Robbie Power turning for home and getting first run on Ladbrokes ambassador Paul Townend, who was aboard the favourite Benie Des Dieux.
Honeysuckle (Henry de Bromhead) – Champion Hurdle, 2021
De Bromhead’s unbeaten mare was at Blackmore’s side once again to provide the Killenaule rider with her first success of a remarkable Cheltenham Festival in 2021.
The pair entered the race as the heavily backed 11/10f and Blackmore took no chances, sending her mount to the front after the second last and keeping up the revs all the way to the line.
It was arguably one of the most dominant Champion Hurdle victories in modern time and was the first time a female rider returned as the winner of the opening-day feature.
Bob Olinger (Henry de Bromhead) – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, 2021
A second winner of the week came in the opening race of day two of the 2021 Cheltenham Festival as she was aboard Bob Olinger when he announced himself on the biggest stage.
He glided through the race effortlessly to keep his unbeaten record intact and the pair will be looking to score over fences at Prestbury Park in 2022.
Sir Gerhard (Willie Mullins) – Champion Bumper, 2021
Amateur jockeys not being able to compete at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival allowed Blackmore to take the spare ride aboard the 85/40 second favourite.
Heading into the race unbeaten, the contest was seen as a toss-up between Sir Gerhard and stablemate Kilcruit, who was sent off the 11/10 favourite.
Indeed, it did come down to a battle between the Closutton pair, and Blackmore earned plenty of plaudits for her ride aboard the eventual winner, making all and timing the fractions perfectly to hold on by half a length.
Allaho (Willie Mullins) – Ryanair Chase, 2021
Blackmore’s ability from the front was seen to excellent effect once again as she guided Allaho to a breathtaking victory in the Thursday co-feature.
It was one of the most exceptional rounds of jumping and galloping ever seen at the Cheltenham Festival as horse and jockey kept the pressure on Min throughout and then forced all of their other rivals into submission over the course of 2m4f.
Ruby Walsh was seen roaring with delight as Blackmore and one of his favourite horses came home in front and in the aftermath, Blackmore was keen to credit Walsh for his advice pre-race on how best to ride the horse.
Telmesomethinggirl (Henry de Bromhead) – Dawn Run Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle, 2021
Having excelled from the front, it was now time for Blackmore to show her talents in the saddle when riding a patient race as she struck late to grab the spoils aboard Telmesomethinggirl.
Turning for home there was a wall of horses in front of the duo, but as others began to struggle, Telmesomethinggirl was just hitting top gear and there was little doubt the mare would come home in front once taking the lead after the last.
Quilixios (Henry de Bromhead) – Triumph Hurdle, 2021
This reads as a win for Blackmore and De Bromhead, but it could easily have been Gordon Elliott and Jack Kennedy in the winner’s enclosure, as Quilixios was one of the many Cheveley Park horses that was sent to De Bromhead from Elliott just before the 2021 Cheltenham Festival.
It was Blackmore’s first time aboard the Juvenile, but they proved a match made in heaven as the 2/1 second favourite finished just over three-lengths clear of the runner-up, Adagio.
The ones that got away….
It has not been all sunshine and roses for Blackmore at the Cheltenham Festival and she has had to suffer some agonising defeats along the way.
Minella Indo was agonisingly hunted down on the line by Champ in a thrilling finish of the RSA Chase, while Monalee was badly hampered at a crucial stage when giving Blackmore her first ride in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
There was further Gold Cup drama in 2021 as Blackmore famously decided to select A Plus Tard over stablemate Minella Indo and had to watch on in despair as the horse that had provided her with her first Grade One victory at this very track, stayed on best to land the blue riband.
Blackmore could only congratulate the winner with a handshake as A Plus Tard had to settle for a silver medal.
Who will be winner number 10?
There won’t be many riders with a better book of rides than Blackmore when she returns to Prestbury Park in 2022 and it could be fitting that the horse most likely to give her winner number 10 at the Cheltenham Festival could be Honeysuckle.
De Bromhead’s superstar mare is the odds-on favourite to defend her Champion Hurdle crown as horse and jockey attempt to combine for a third Cheltenham Festival victory.
Blackmore will also be looking forward to getting aboard Bob Olinger once again and he is likely to go off a heavy favourite for the Turners Novices’ Chase, while she will be looking for redemption in the Gold Cup when she will once again have to decide whether to stick with A Plus Tard or switch to the defending champion.