Rachael Blackmore made history in the world of horse racing last month.
On March 19th, Blackmore became the first female jockey to win Cheltenham’s Leading Jockey trophy. The trophy is awarded to the jockey of the week-long racing event and with six out of seven wins, she was a deserving winner.
She also broke records becoming the first female winner of the Champion Hurdle, a Grade One race typically held on day one. Her horse, Honeysuckle also won the Hurdle in last year’s festival. Blackmore’s victory was followed up by two more wins on Wednesday and Thursday of the same week.
On Friday, she got another win bringing her total of victories to six. She narrowly missed out on the Gold Cup, coming second in the last and biggest race of the week. But being awarded the leading jockey title and earning the applause of top-jockey pundits in the horse-racing world will be a welcome prize.
Blackmore has now been dubbed the ‘’Queen of Cheltenham’’ for her efforts, and rightly so. Her talent and ethic have shone through in every single race and not just the successful ones. She is leading the sport of horse-racing in a new direction.
Over the last year, horse-racing has been left reeling from the impact of the pandemic. From a mistaken decision to hold the Festival last year as Covid-19 was starting to hit, to horrendous scenes as images of jockeys posing on dead horses emerged on social media last month, the controversies have been disastrous to say the least. There have been calls over the last few months, for horse racing to be banned or at least changed. It’s a dangerous sport, which only really bursts onto the scenes and generates global interest at the Cheltenham Festival and Aintree Grand National.
However, as all horse racing fans will tell you – it’s a spectacle like no other. A gritty, thrilling event where really, anything can happen. The characters, the crowds, the stories, and the drama, make it riveting to watch. For a sport that has been dominated with negative headlines lately, to see someone like Blackmore come in and make history was certainly a joyful experience to watch.
Blackmore’s six victories at the meeting have only been topped by one other jockey – the Festival’s all-time top rider Ruby Walsh, who had seven wins twice.
Speaking to RTÉ Radio 1’s Morning Ireland after the race, the Tipperary jockey said: “It’s phenomenal. I can’t even comprehend being leading rider in Cheltenham. Getting an award from AP McCoy in the shape of Ruby Walsh – that’s crazy!
“To any young riders out there, they should just dream however they want to, it can be achieved. If you work hard and you get the opportunities, anything can happen.”
That says it all. With enough hard work, ethos and determination, anything can happen. Blackmore is living proof of that.
Image Credit: Independent.ie