Flashback: Rachael Blackmore Becomes the First Female Jockey to Win the Grand National

By  //  June 28, 2023

Rachael Blackmore is one of the best jockeys in National Hunt racing. Dubbed ‘The Queen of the Cotswolds’ due to her excellent performances at the Cheltenham Festival, her 14 wins at Prestbury Park speak for themselves.

But in 2021, she would make history as the first female jockey to win the Grand National, replicating that good form from Gloucestershire to the iconic Aintree course with Minella Times to earn JP McManus a second National victory. 

While those assessing the horse racing betting online will see Henry de Bromhead’s County Waterford stable look particularly weaker than in recent years for the 2023 Grand National, the race’s unpredictability means anyone can come out on top. 

With Minella Times retiring, all hopes of another Blackmore victory look to be in the hands of 25/1 Ain’t That A Shame, but with last year’s winner Noble Yeats and favorite Corach Rambler heading to Merseyside in better form, it could prove difficult for Blackmore to secure a second National victory. 

Regardless of how things go at this year’s event, Blackmore’s performance aboard Minella Times in 2021 earnt her a place in the history books. Indeed, it served as a special few weeks for her and De Bromhead, in which they dominated Cheltenham and then the Grand National.

The build-up

Blackmore was the talk of the town heading into Aintree in 2021, the one caveat being there weren’t any fans to share the experience with. After all major sporting events were essentially canceled in 2020, the Grand National included, the following year saw races run behind closed doors, and after winning the Gold Cup without the Cheltenham roar it was a shame few were on hand to witness the National victory in the flesh. 

De Bromhead went to Aintree strong after six winners at Cheltenham and Minella Times came into the race as one of the favorites at 11/1, joined by the likes of Bristol De Mai and Cloth Cap. 

The race 

Blackmore knew that this race would be different to the Gold Cup, and with Minella Times not running since February, there was always likely to be some ring rust. What is never guaranteed though is a safe passage through the Aintree fences. They are much larger than Prestbury Park, with the infamous “Chair” being one of the most difficult obstacles in the race. This makes the Grand National a true test of stamina and courage, with only the best horses and jockeys able to triumph.

While Cloth Cap pulled up few would have expected the 100/1 outsider Balko Des Flos to come towards the finishing line strongly. It would have been a fairy-tale story for Minella’s stablemate and De Bromhead couldn’t believe his eyes. Unfortunately for Aiden Coleman, there was just too much quality on display from Blackmore as she secured victory by six lengths. 

The reaction 

De Bromhead was full of praise for his team, showing his appreciation for Blackmore and Minella Times after County Waterford secured the one-two victory, in what would have been one of the best periods of his racing career.

“I don’t know it’s just brilliant,” he said. “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. She’s (Rachael) brilliant, isn’t she? Aren’t we so lucky to have her, they broke the mold after her? She’s brilliant.”