How many rides has Rachael Blackmore had in the Grand National?
Formerly a successful amateur jockey, Rachael Blackmore turned professional in 2015 and, in 2017, became Irish Champion Conditional Jockey. The following year she had her first ride in the Grand National, parting company with her mount, Alpha Des Obeax, trained by Michael ‘Mouse’ Morris, at The Chair, the penultimate fence of the first circuit. In 2019, she completed the Grand National Course for the first time, finishing tenth of 19 finishers, beaten 33¼ lengths, on Valseur Lido, trained by Henry De Bromhead.
Of course, the 2020 Grand National was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but Blackmore was back at Aintree in 2021, aboard Minella Times. Fresh from becoming the first female jockey to win the Ruby Walsh Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival, Blackmore made steady headway on the 11/1 chance from early on the second circuit and took a narrow lead on the turn for home. The rest, as they say, is history. Having held a definite advantage over the final fence, Minella Times stayed on to beat stable companion Balko Des Flos by 6½ lengths, thereby making Blackmore the first female jockey to win the Grand National, on just her third attempt. Readers might like to spare a thought for the recently-retired Richard Johnson, who rode in the Grand National 21 times between 1997 and 2019 and never finished better than second.