History maker Rachael Blackmore was given a hero’s welcome as she returned to Ireland and rode a winner on her only ride of the day.
Just 24 hours after becoming the first female jockey to win the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup, the 32 year old won the Carey Glass Hurdle at Thurles on the Mouse Morris-trained Gentlemansgame.
There could not have been a more ideal venue for Blackmore’s first post-Festival mount than Thurles. Situated in County Tipperary, where Blackmore was born, it is the racecourse where it all began for the jockey when she partnered her first winner there, the Shark Hanlon-trained Stowaway Pearl, on February 10th 2011.
It was no surprise to see a bumper crowd for Blackmore’s homecoming at her “home” track and the congratulatory homemade banners included one from a young girl which simply read “GO RACHAEL”, summing up the mood perfectly.
No autograph or selfie was refused as Blackmore walked through the crowd before and after her success.
Blackmore said afterwards: “It’s so nice to come back here and there is such a lovely crowd today. Having people congratulate you from your home county is very special – it’s lovely to be back after such a special day yesterday.
“My first winner came here a good few years ago and Thurles is always a special place for me as it’s always good to get your first winner on the board – things have escalated a bit since!
“I could never have imagined after my first winner that day what I would go on to achieve and I don’t think anyone watching the race that day could have either. Hopefully, I’ve improved a bit since that day.”
Looking back to Tuesday, when she partnered the mare Honeysuckle to a second Unibet Champion Hurdle success, Blackmore said: “The reception was so electric, it’s hard to put into words really. The whole way walking back down the chute, just the volume of noise with people cheering you back in was something else – Cheltenham really is such a special place. I feel very lucky to be riding winners there.”
Turning to her success yesterday on A Plus Tard in the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup, she continued: “A Plus Tard was just incredible. The way he quickened after the last showed you he just a phenomenal horse. For Henry (de Bromhead) to have the 1-2 in the Gold Cup and win the Champion Hurdle two years in a row is jut incredible training and I’m very lucky to be riding for him.”
On the importance of winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the last of Jump racing’s crown jewels to elude her, Blackmore added: “It meant a lot, it really did. I had a fantastic week there last year but the Gold Cup didn’t go my way. You need to get everything to go right and thankfully it all lined up for me this year.”
While Blackmore’s successes in 2021 at Cheltenham and Aintree came behind closed doors door to the COVID-19 pandemic, she was able to be joined by members of her family at Cheltenham this week.
She added: “It was so great to have my family there this year and to have the crowds back in Cheltenham made it more special.”
The Jockey Club Press Release