Before Rachael Blackmore, which female jockey achieved the best placing in the Grand National?
On April 10, 2021, 44 years after Charlotte Budd (née Brew) made sporting history by becoming the first female jockey to ride in the Grand National, Rachael Blackmore did so again by becoming the first female jockey to win the world famous steeplechase. Blackmore expertly guided the 8-year-old Minella Times, trained by Henry de Bromhead, to a 6½-length victory over stable companion Balko Des Flos, thereby shattering another glass ceiling in the sporting world.
In the interim, several female jockeys, including Rosemary Henderson, Carrie Ford and Bryony Frost – who all finished fifth, in 1994, 2005 and 2018, respectively – have successfully completed the Grand National Course. However, before Rachael Blackmore, who also rode Valseur Lido into tenth position in 2019, the female jockey who had achieved the best placing in the Grand National was another Irishwoman, the now-retired Katie Walsh.
Katie Walsh is, of course, the son of trainer Ted Walsh and the brother of Rupert ‘Ruby’ Walsh, who teamed up to win the Grand National with Papillon in 2000. However, she carved her own slice of Grand National history when partnering Seabass, trained by her father, into third place behind Neptune Collonges and Sunnyhillboy in the 2012 Grand National. All told, Katie Walsh rode in the Grand National half a dozen times between 2012 and 2018 and, with the exception of Ballycasey, from whom she was unseated after a mistake at the second-last fence, completed the course of each of her mounts.