Rachael Blackmore rewrote the history books yet again to become the first female jockey to win the Randox Grand National at Aintree on Saturday as she and Minella Times gave owner JP McManus a second win in the iconic race.
Minella Times had been backed into 11-1 for the world’s greatest steeplechase after Blackmore rode six winners at last month’s Cheltenham Festival to win the leading jockey award.
Blackmore, who grew up in Tipperary and is just 10 winners behind Paul Townend in the Irish Champion Jockey title race on 85, described winning the race as a “massive” moment in her career.
After partnering the eight year old to an historic six and a half-length victory, the 31 year old jockey said: “I am so lucky to be riding these horses for Henry. This is so massive. I had such a beautiful passage around.
“Minella Times jumped fantastically and didn’t miss a beat anywhere. I couldn't believe it, jumping the second-last - I don’t know, it’s just incredible. When I hit the rail and I heard I was four lengths in front, I knew he was going to gallop to the line, but we all know what can happen on the run-in here. When I crossed the line, I don’t know how I felt - it’s incredible.”
She went on to say: “It’s unbelievable. It’s just incredible. I just got such an unbelievable passage through the race. Minella Times just jumped fantastic and brought me from fence to fence.
“I just travelled and jumped everywhere. I wish I could give you a better run down of what happened. I got a beautiful passage everywhere. He travelled really well and jumped really well. I thought jumping two out I was trying to hold on to a bit as it is a long way home.
“He was just unbelievable. I’m riding all these horses for Henry de Bromhead who had a one- two there. I’m so privileged to be getting on these horses. A massive thanks to JP McManus as well. He is an extremely special horse. Ruby Walsh and Katie Walsh I’ve asked them both in the past about riding around here and they often talk about a semi-circle in front of you and I felt like I had that everywhere.
“That is what you need in a race like this, you need so much luck to get around with no one else interfering first of all. You need so much to go right and things went right for me today. I feel so incredibly lucky. It is unbelievable I’m just so thrilled.”
Speaking to ITV after the race, trainer Henry de Bromhead was asked what his secret is after the huge success he enjoyed at Cheltenham.
He said: “I don’t know it’s just brilliant, it’s all down to Rachael obviously, she was brilliant on him today, I’m just delighted - amazing, super ride, she hardly left the rail.
“She was just brilliant on him. It’s brilliant for the McManuse's. Just over the moon. Balko (Des Flos, second) was super as well, Aidan was brilliant on him. He ran an absolute cracker as well, incredible.
“It feels amazing, it really does - it’s incredible. It’s stuff you dream of. I’ve been watching it since I was a kid. It’s amazing, I’m just so lucky. She’s (Rachael) brilliant, isn’t she? Aren’t we so lucky to have her, they broke the mould after her. She’s brilliant.”
The trainer told the media later: “It’s amazing, it really is. The stuff you dream about; incredible. Rachael was brilliant on him, and it’s amazing to do it for the McManuses. We got a lot of luck all the way around, and winged fences - it’s incredible. It looked as though Rachael had it won jumping the last, but we all know how things can change. Any Second Now looked a bit unlucky with his passage and was coming back at us, and Balko Des Flos was staying on as well.
“Balko Des Flos [second] is a class horse and just lost his form, but Rachael was convinced that he was really enjoying the Cross-Country at Cheltenham when he unfortunately came out, and it was brilliant to see him running so well for the Racehorse Club. He ran a cracker, and Chris’s Dream was going very well; he just unshipped Darragh O’Keefe four or five fences out. I’m just delighted.
“Yes, I used to dream about winning this - of course, but it was a very distant dream! These are the races you want to win. I feel so fortunate.
“We were a bit unfortunate with Minella Times through the winter, having a couple of great runs and just getting beaten, but this makes up for it!
“Yes, we schooled the horses over some Aintree-type fences - fairly makeshift things - which seemed to have helped, but Minella Times is such a good jumper anyway.
“Rachael is brilliant and we are so lucky to have her. I think they broke the mould after her; she’s tough out and brilliant - what can you say? You can see that when she joined us we have gone from strength to strength with her. She’s a fantastic rider, a great team player and just a lovely person to work with. She’s breaking through all the records.
“There’ll have to be a party now! I’ve got the old ferry trip again tonight, which is something to look forward to!”
Former jockey AP McCoy, who was champion jockey 20 years running and until today had won JP McManus his only Grand National with Don’t Push It in 2010, paid tribute to Blackmore after the race.
He said: “She’s got it all and she’s proved it on the biggest stage. Everyone in the world can now see it.”
5:15pm Randox Grand National Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 4m 2f 74y
1 Minella Times (IRE) ts 8 10 3 Henry de Bromhead Ireland Mr John P. McManus Rachael Blackmore 11/1
2 Balko des Flos (FR) 10 10 9 Henry de Bromhead Ireland RacehorseClub.com Aidan Coleman 100/1
3 Any Second Now (IRE) bl 9 10 9 T. M. Walsh Ireland Mr John P. McManus Mark Walsh 15/2
4 Burrows Saint (FR) ts 8 10 13 W. P. Mullins Ireland Mrs S. Ricci Mr P. W. Mullins 9/1
5 Farclas (FR) ts 7 10 3 Mrs Denise Foster Ireland Gigginstown House Stud Jack Kennedy
6 Blaklion 12 10 2 Dan Skelton Darren & Annaley Yates Harry Skelton
7 Discorama (FR) ts 8 10 6 Paul Nolan Ireland Thomas Friel/Andrew Gemmell B. J. Cooper
8 Jett (IRE) p 10 10 7 Mrs J. Harrington Ireland Mr Robert Waley-Cohen Mr Sam Waley-Cohen
9 Cabaret Queen 9 10 5 W. P. Mullins Ireland Syndicates.Racing Sean O'Keeffe
10 Shattered Love (IRE) ts, p 10 10 7 Mrs Denise Foster Ireland Gigginstown House Stud Kevin Sexton
11 Alpha des Obeaux (FR) bl,ts 11 10 9 Mrs Denise Foster Ireland Gigginstown House Stud Jody McGarvey
12 Hogan's Height (IRE) ts 10 10 3 Jamie Snowden Foxtrot Racing: Hogan's Height Gavin Sheehan
13 Acapella Bourgeois (FR) h 11 10 12 W. P. Mullins Ireland Slaneyville Syndicate Daniel Mullins
14 Sub Lieutenant (IRE) ts, p 12 10 3 Georgie Howell Ms G. Howell Tabitha Worsley
15 Class Conti (FR) ts, p 9 10 6 W. P. Mullins Ireland Mr Simon Munir/Mr Isaac Souede Brian Hayes
FELL 1ST Lake View Lad (IRE) p 11 11 0 N. W. Alexander Mr Trevor Hemmings Brian Hughes
UR 4TH Magic of Light (IRE) p 10 10 13 Mrs J. Harrington Ireland Ann & Alan Potts Limited Robbie Power
UR 11TH Minellacelebration (IRE) 11 10 5 Katy Price Mr Nick Elliott Ben Poste
FELL 12TH Double Shuffle (IRE) 11 10 2 Tom George Crossed Fingers Partnership Jonathan Burke
PU 13TH Anibale Fly (FR) ts 11 10 12 A. J. Martin Ireland Mr John P. McManus Denis O'Regan
FELL 15TH Canelo (IRE) p 8 10 4 Alan King Mr John P. McManus Tom Bellamy
FELL 15TH Ami Desbois (FR) ts 11 10 2 Graeme McPherson The Reserved Judgment Partnership Kielan Woods
PU 17TH Mister Malarky ts, p 8 10 12 Colin Tizzard Wendy & Malcolm Hezel Jonjo O'Neill Jr.
PU 17TH Takingrisks (IRE) p 12 10 7 Nicky Richards Mr Frank Bird Sean Quinlan
PU 19TH Ballyoptic (IRE) ts 11 11 1 Nigel Twiston-Davies Mills & Mason Partnership Sam Twiston-Davies
FELL 18TH Vieux Lion Rouge (FR) ts, p 12 10 5 David Pipe Prof Caroline Tisdall & Mr John Gent Conor O'Farrell
UR 20TH Yala Enki (FR) 11 11 3 Paul Nicholls Hills of Ledbury Ltd Bryony Frost
PU 21ST Ok Corral (IRE) 11 10 8 Nicky Henderson Mr John P. McManus Mr Derek O'Connor
PU 21ST Lord du Mesnil (FR) ts, p 8 10 6 Richard Hobson Mr Paul Porter & Mike & Mandy Smith Nick Scholfield
PU 22nd Bristol de Mai (FR) 10 11 10 Nigel Twiston-Davies Mr Simon Munir & Mr Isaac Souede Daryl Jacob
PU 22ND Potters Corner (IRE) bl 11 10 6 Christian Williams All Stars Sports, Davies & RacehorseClub Jack Tudor
PU 23RD The Long Mile 7 10 4 J.P.Dempsey Ireland Mr John P. McManus Luke Dempsey
PU 26TH Talkischeap (IRE) 9 10 12 Alan King Mr Charles Dingwall Tom Cannon
UR 27th Chris's Dream (IRE) 9 11 7 Henry de Bromhead Ireland Robcour Darragh O'Keeffe
PU 28TH Cloth Cap (IRE) p 9 10 5 Jonjo O'Neill Mr Trevor Hemmings Tom Scudamore 11/2 Fav
PU 29TH Definitly Red (IRE) p 12 11 1 Brian Ellison Phil & Julie Martin Henry Brooke
PU 29TH Tout Est Permis (FR) p 8 10 12 Noel Meade Ireland Gigginstown House Stud Sean Flanagan
PU 29TH Kimberlite Candy (IRE) p 9 10 10 Tom Lacey Mr John P. McManus Richie McLernon
PU 29TH Milan Native (IRE) ts 8 10 6 Mrs Denise Foster Ireland Gigginstown House Stud Mr J. J. Codd
PU 29TH Give Me A Copper (IRE) ts 11 10 4 Paul Nicholls Done, Ferguson, Mason, Nicholls & Wood Sean Bowen
WHAT THE BEATEN JOCKEYS SAID
Aidan Coleman, Balko Des Flos (2nd): “I couldn’t be happier with him. He was super. He jumped brilliantly and travelled into it really well. He did everything right but just didn’t win. All credit to him.”
Mark Walsh, Any Second Now (3rd): “He was very unlucky, he very nearly got brought down at the third last and he’s done great to finish third.”
Patrick Mullins, Burrows Saint (4th): “I had a fantastic spin and he did everything right. We got a lovely position and he jumped fantastic. I was chatting to Rachael (Blackmore) going past the stands with a circuit to go and we were both very happy with where we were. We were side by side all of the way, and I was trying to get on to her boot and get a lead off her, but from the second-last I just couldn’t go with her. He got very tired and maybe he didn’t stay, but it was nearly the perfect ride.”
Jack Kennedy, Farclas (5th): “I was absolutely delighted with him. He jumped and travelled great but probably just didn’t see out the trip. I had a brilliant time on him.”
Harry Skelton, on Blaklion (6th), said: “He gave me a brilliant spin. He just doesn’t quite stay. He was a pleasure to ride, he has great enthusiasm for racing at twelve years old. He just loves the game.”
Sam Waley-Cohen, Jett (8th): “He came alive. He jumped and travelled so well and I didn’t want to break his rhythm, so I just let him stay where he was and keep jumping. He probably didn’t quite get home today, but that was a lot of fun for an amateur to go and do that, he looked after me and we had a lot of fun.”
Sean O’Keefe, Cabaret Queen (9th): “She ran great and jumped super. She loved it and just got a bit tired. She ran a very good race.”
Kevin Sexton, Shattered Love (10th): “She was flat out for the first circuit and we were going nowhere, but she jumped brilliant. After a circuit she started latching on to a few and she ran a cracker in the end.”
Jody McGarvey, Alpha Des Obeaux (11th): I had a lovely run around and avoided all of the trouble. He jumped very well but didn’t have the legs to get me home.”
Gavin Sheehan, Hogan’s Height (12th) “I was forward enough where I was. My lad was an absolute pleasure, he loved jumping those fences. He jumped from fence for fence and he was a bit further back than I’d have liked, but that was just a joy to ride in that race and I can’t wait to go over those fences again in the Becher and the Sefton.”
Tabitha Worsley, Sub Lieutenant (14th): “He’s run a blinder. They were always going a bit too quick for him but we had a lovely run around and he stayed on well.”
Brian Hayes, Class Conti (15th): “Class Conti jumped great, travelled ok early on, but just didn’t get home.”
Tom Scudamore, on 11/2 favourite Cloth Cap (PU 28th), said: “We had a great ride for a long way. We got to the canal turn and a lot came by me and we struggled from there. He got very tired after the last ditch so we pulled-up.”
Kielan Woods, Ami Desbois (Fell 15th): “I was getting a great spin until I got brought down at The Chair by Tom Bellamy - my horse seems fine, though.”
Ben Poste, Minellacelebration, (UR 11th): “I was having a great time until I fell off him!”
Robbie Power, Magic of Light (UR 4th): “It was very quick anyways. She jumped the first three fences really well and made a bad mistake at the fourth and just unseated me.”
Darragh O'Keeffe, Chris’s Dream (UR 27th): “I got a lovely run round and a good spin and he just got in a bit too tight to the ditch. Other than that a good spin.”
Conor O’Farrell, Vieux Lion Rouge (Fell 20th): “It’s just very unfortunate really, he jumped his way into a lovely position going out onto the second circuit and it was unlike him around here. He’s just got in too deep and didn’t get the landing gear but thankfully he’s up and lives to fight another day.”
Daryl Jacob, Bristol De Mai (PU 22nd): “It was just too much weight to be honest. The ground was too good and too much weight and he just couldn’t sustain the gallop that they went.”
Sean Bowen, Give Me A Copper (PU 29th): “I think he burst a blood vessel so we stopped at Canal Turn.”
Jack Tudor, Potters Corner (PU 22nd): “He just needs softer ground to be honest with you. When he hit is flat spot in the mid part of the race they were just getting away from him and in that ground I just wasn’t able to get back on their tails to keep going, but he’ll have another day.”
Tom Bellamy, Canelo (fell 15th): “He just tipped up. It’s what these fences can do and he didn’t make much of a mistake, it just got the better of him.”
Sam Twiston Davies, Ballyoptic (refused 19th) said: “We never travelled, but had a nice time.”
Mr Jamie Codd, Milan Native (PU 29th) said: “He just jumped too big and was out of contention early on.”
Jonathan Burke, on Double Shuffle (fell 12th), said: “I was having a great spin until we fell!”
Ryan Mania, Definitly Red (PU 29th): He couldn’t go the early pace but then settled into a real nice rhythm and went well for about a circuit and a half. Jumping Bechers the second time he was starting to get tired, and by the time we got to the Melling Road he was really tired and I pulled him up.”
Denis O’Regan (Anibale Fly, PU 13th): “He was brought to a standstill at the first and that was it. His chance was gone.”
Richie Mclernon, Kimberlite Candy (PU 29th): “I was flat out all of the way. He jumped well though.”
Brian Hughes (Lake View Lad, fell first): “We fell at the first.”
Sean Flanagan, Tout Est Permis (PU 29th): I got a nice position early and jumped well, but I’ve tired from a long way out.
Derek O’Connor, OK Corral (PU 21st): “He started off the race jumping brilliantly but then lost his confidence after a mile and a half or two miles and we just petered out of the race after that.”
Nick Scholfield, Lord Du Mesnil (PU 21st): “I had a great spin but he needs soft ground and unfortunately it didn’t rain. I ended up pulling him up.”
Sean Quinlan, Takingrisks (PU 17th): “He was a bit too careful and never really enjoyed it, so I pulled him up with a circuit to go.”
Jonjo O’Neill (Mister Malarkey, PU 17th): He didn’t want to have a cut at it today and got a bump, but he can throw in a run like that sometimes.”
WHAT THE BEATEN TRAINERS SAID
Takingrisks, (PU 17TH)
“He went a circuit then pulled up. It’s a difficult start and we wanted to get up in the first quarter of them but we were playing catch up from the gate.
“Our race was over in the first part. He was getting no light and he didn’t get in any rhythm and he kept getting little knocks. His race was over in the first furlong.
“I’m glad Sean (Quinlan) pulled him up. We will run him until Christmas next season and see if the first is still burning.”
Cloth Cap (PU 28TH, 11/2 Fav)
“Tom (Scudamore) said he was going away grand and he just started gurgling a little bit and he did the right thing and pulled him up. He was having a great run and everything was going grand then he stopped. We will get him checked out but we will look at his wind. Tom just said he got slower and slower but he did the right thing.”
Yala Enki (UR 20th)
“Yala Enki unseated and came down in the country. The horse seems fine but I’m not sure about Bryony.”
Give Me A Copper (PU 29th)
He said: “Give Me A Copper just plodded round and he gave Sean a nice round and the horse did what I thought he would do. He didn’t jump well enough but he ran okay.”
OK Corral (PU 21st)
He said: “He baulked at the first and that was about the end of it. Derek (O’Connor) said he jumped the first brilliantly but just landed on a loose horse. He was totally on the backfoot from then.”
She said: “Farclas jumped and travelled really well and Jack (Kennedy) seemed happy with him. You need a lot of luck in a race like this so he ran a solid race.”
Shattered Love (10th)
She said: “It was a bit of an unknown today and we didn’t know what would happen with her but she is a class filly. She ran okay.”
Alpha Dea Obeaux (11th)
“Alpha Des Obeaux ran his race but was not good enough.”
Milan Native (PU 29th)
“Jamie said he was unsure about off the fences and frightened himself a small bit.”