Heading into the Punchestown Festival, which concludes the Irish National Hunt season, Rachael Blackmore trailed Paul Townend by just four winners in the Irish jump jockeys’ championship. Despite winning the Irish Champion Hurdle for the second year running on Honeysuckle, she failed to overhaul the reigning champion, but can still reflect on a remarkable season in 2020/21.
Blackmore, 31, is no stranger to ‘firsts’; in 2016/17, she became the first female jockey to win the Irish Conditional Jockeys’ Championship and, since becoming principal jockey to Co. Waterford trainer Henry De Bromhead in 2018, has risen to the top of her profession. She is already the most successful female jockey, of any description, in the history of British or Irish horse racing.
However, her more recent historic successes have thrust her firmly into the public eye. In March, 2021, Blackmore not only became the first female jockey to win the Champion Hurdle, on the aforementioned Honeysuckle, but also the first to win the Ruby Walsh Trophy, awarded to the leading jockey at the Cheltenham Festival. The following month, she rode Minella Times to victory in the Grand National, thereby becoming the first female jockey in the 182-year history of the Aintree showpiece to do so. Immediately afterwards, Blackmore said, ‘I don’t feel male or female right now. I don’t even feel human.’