The Grand National gets top billing on the horse racing calendar every year, and it can turn the winning horse and the jockey who rides them from unknowns into household names overnight.
That is certainly going to be the case for Rachael Blackmore, who on Saturday became the first female jockey to win horse racing’s most famous contest.
And let us not forget her noble steed, Minella Times, who started the race at 11/2 as the second favourite.
“I don’t feel male or female right now – I don’t even feel human! It’s just unbelievable.”
She can say that again, and as you will read in this post, Blackmore has been quietly trail blazing for a while now.
*By the way, if you detect any bias in this article it’s because Rachael and Minella Times won this blogger £60. Don’t be jealous.
Female Horse Racing Jockeys
Believe it or not, female jockeys have been allowed to race in the Grand National at Aintree since 1975, thanks to the passing of the sex discrimination act.
Charlotte Brew was the first ever female jockey to race in the National, racing in 1977 and 1982 with the horse refusing the first time and being unseated the second.
Charlotte Brew helped transform horse racing and remains a celebrity within the industry.https://t.co/3GqGYmaf7H
— Somerset Live (@SomersetLive) April 6, 2021
However, the closest a female jockey has ever come to actually lifting the trophy was back in 2012, when Katie Walsh came 3rd riding on Seabass.
That means Blackmore’s landmark achievement has been more than 45 years coming.
Yet despite women being allowed to take part in the world’s most famous Steeplechase for almost half a century, just 19 ladies have had the honour, and only 8 of them have ever crossed the finish line.
|Jockey Name||Years Ran (*Best Result)||Best Finish|
|Rachael Blackmore||2018, 2019, 2021*||WINNER|
|Bryony Frost||2018*, 2021||5th|
|Katie Walsh||2012*, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018||3rd|
|Nina Carberry||2006, 2010*, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016||7th|
The remaining female jockeys never finished the race, being either unseated, fell, or the horse refused or pulled up:
Lizzie Kelly, Tarnya Davis, Gee Armytage, Venetia Williams, Penny Ffitch-Heyes, Jacqui Oliver, Valerie Alder, Joy Carrier, Linda Sheedy, Jenny Hembrow (2), Charlotte Brew (2).
Only 24 of the 46 Grand Nationals run since 1975 have included jockey’s who were women.
Who is Rachael Blackmore?
Born in Ireland in 1989 to a dairy farmer and a teacher, Blackmore would ride ponies from a young age.
Her interest in horses saw her complete a degree in Equine Science from Limerick University with the aim of becoming a vet, but she also competed as an amateur jockey in her spare time.
Her first ever win came in February 2011, almost exactly a decade before making history as the first female Grand National winner.
That wasn’t the first time she blazed the trail though. She was the first woman to be the leading jockey at the Cheltenham Festival last month, with six wins under her belt including being the first female jockey to win the Champion Hurdle.
She was also the first woman to win the Conditional Riders Championship in Ireland.
I suspect we have not seen the last of Rachael Blackmore.