Rachael Blackmore: The first female Grand National winner.

Rachael Blackmore makes history at Aintree. Image by H. Hach from Pixabay

On the 10th of April, Rachael Blackmore made history at Aintree by becoming the first female jockey to ride the winner, Minella Times, at the Grand National.

Blackmore made a momentous landmark for racing, 44 years after Charlotte Brew became the first female jockey to compete in the Grand National.

Born in County Tipperary, Blackmore is one of the leading National Hunt jockeys in Ireland and Britain. She began her professional career in 2015, at the age of 25, and shortly after became the first woman to win the Conditional Riders’ title in the 2016/2017 season. In 2021 she was the leading jockey in the Cheltenham Festival with six winners, just three weeks before becoming the first female jockey to win the Grand National.

“Horse racing needed a hero after what was the most challenging year it has ever faced. Rachael Blackmore has stepped up to the mark and delivered results at Cheltenham and Aintree that feel incredibly important for the sport in the broadest sense. Today was simply sensational” tweeted Kevin Blake, a horse racing pundit.

In the decades that followed Meriel Tufnell, the first female jockey allowed to race against men in 1972, opportunities for female jockeys have not come easily. However, in recent years, a sharp increase in race wins has created a more level playing field for women competing professionally in the sport.

Blackmore’s appointment as the first jockey to trainer Henry de Bromhead was a milestone for all hopeful female jockeys. Bromhead, the Irish horse trainer, has one of the most powerful stables in the industry, becoming the first trainer to win the Champion Hurdle, the Champion Chase and the Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival. Three weeks later, his horses came first and second at the Grand National.

#JustJockeys, an initiative launched by The Great British Racing, has been campaigning to drop the term ‘female jockeys’ to celebrate the sport as one. Their campaign page highlights the achievements of the jockeys to date.

Blackmore is a strong advocate for the campaign and, in many interviews, has mentioned that she does not feel the need to express her gender at this time.

In an interview on Ireland AM, Blackmore states, “It’s just been incredible; I don’t know how I’m feeling as it’s just unbelievable. The Grand National is such an incredibly special race. It’s the race you dream about as a kid, and to have actually won it is just phenomenal.” Watch the full interview below.

However, for many young female jockeys hoping to begin a racing career, Blackmore’s win at the Grand National is an inspiration and a boost of encouragement to get into the sport.

Supporters took to Twitter to congratulate Blackmore on her win.

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