Serial Winners

Serial Winners: Four of Rachael Blackmore's finest performances

Betfair Ambassador Rachael Blackmore
Rachael Blackmore has produced some magical moments in the saddle

As we continue our Serial Winners series, racing enthusiast Mike Norman discusses four of Betfair Ambassador Rachael Blackmore's most magical moments in the saddle...

Rachael Blackmore is the defintion of a Serial Winner, showing on numerous occasions just how special a jockey she is.

We have asked @BetfairRacing followers to vote on what is her best performance in the saddle during her career so far, and we have analysed them all for you!

Minella Times - 2021 Grand National

From flag fall, Rachael had Minella Times in a lovely position, racing towards the inside, sitting just a few lengths off the early gallop. She gave her horse a great sighter at the first six fences, producing a lovely leap at Becher's Brook before positioning Minella Times ideally to attack the Canal Turn.

They say the first circuit of a Grand National is all about getting your horse into a nice jumping rhythm, staying out of trouble, and being able to get into a position that will allow you a chance to win on the second circuit. Rachael did this superbly, allowing Minella Times a clear view at every fence with the combination's leaps at The Chair and the Water Jump absolutely breathtaking.

Starting the second circuit, Rachael had Minella Times in the perfect position, still racing on the inside in about fifth or sixth, stalking the 11/26.50 favourite Cloth Cap. The pair were still getting a clear view and attacking every fence, travelling powerfully and looking every inch a potential winner as long as Minella Times - who had never raced beyond 3m - could see out the 4m2f trip.

Rounding the home turn Rachael maneuvered Minella Times to the lead, while still holding on to her horse as challengers emerged. But two more foot perfect jumps at the last two fences took Minella Times a couple of lengths clear, and Rachael only had to push her willing partner out to secure a history-making victory.

Rachael becoming the first female jockey to win the Grand National understandably made all the headlines, but if you watch the race over, concentrating only on Rachael and Minella Times, you'll be hard pushed to find a better executed ride, and round of jumping, than what was produced on this magical day.

A Plus Tard - 2021 Betfair Chase

Going off at a price of 11/102.11 to win a horse race ultimately means you are a strong favourite to win, and the perception can often be that you just need to stay out of trouble, do things correctly, and you'll land the prize.

Much of that is true, but in a Grade 1 contest every horse is trained to the minute, at full fitness, and ready to give their all. The 2021 Betfair Chase was no exception, and Rachael, aboard A Plus Tard, had no simple task to land the prohibitive odds.

But just like she did in landing the Grand National earlier that year, Rachael had A Plus Tard in the perfect position throughout, racing in midfield and giving her horse a lovely sight at every obstacle.

A spring-heeled jump at the open ditch at the end of Haydock's back straight took A Plus Tard to within a few lengths of the leader, and when they turned for home and Rachael delivered her horse at the fourth last to produce a spectacular leap, the writing was on the wall for her rivals.

Just a gentle nudge out, and three more excellent jumps, was all that was required for A Plus Tard to saunter to a 22 length victory and a first Betfair Chase success for Rachael.

While many armchair jockeys will scream, "I could have won on that", it was the skill of getting the horse into a lovely rhythm and position, and the delivery at the obstacles that allowed a foot perfect round of jumping, that marks this ride out as another Rachael Blackmore magical moment.

A Plus Tard - 2022 Cheltenham Gold Cup

Twelve months on from being on the 'wrong' horse when A Plus Tard finished an agonising second to stablemate Minella Indo in the 2021 Cheltenham Gold Cup, Rachael was back at Prestbury Park to ride the same horse. Not for revenge, not for redemption, but to try and win the 2022 Cheltenham Gold Cup aboard a 3/14.00 favourite.

Now the hallmark of some of Rachael's best performances in the saddle, A Plus Tard was quickly into a nice rhythm and being shown a clear view at his fences.

Turning for home for the first time, and sitting third from last, Rachael and her partner were clearly travelling exceptionally well and jumping superbly, and despite all 11 runners seemingly going well the eye was always drawn to A Plus Tard.

But when last year's winner Minella Indo kicked for home after the third last, and with A Plus Tard sitting sixth with a wall of horses in front of him, Rachael demonstrated nerves of steel as she refused to panic. She spied a gap approaching the second last and delivered her horse to perfection, producing an excellent leap that put A Plus Tard on the coattails of his stablemate.

And from that moment on it was just spine tingling, as Rachael and A Plus Tard jumped to the front at the last and absolutely stormed up the Cheltenham hill to record a facile success, a victory that hailed Rachael as one of the best 'big race' jockeys of her generation.

Honeysuckle - 2023 Mares' Hurdle

The story of Honeysuckle and Rachael Blackmore should, and probably will, be made into a movie. And if it does then there won't be a dry eye in the house when the end credits begin to roll.

After winning all 16 of her first career starts, including two Champion Hurdles, super mare Honeysuckle started to regress... but not enough to deny her one more glorious day in the Mares' Hurdle at the 2023 Cheltenham Festival, in what we knew beforehand would be her last ever racecourse appearance.

Racing prominently throughout, there was seemingly nothing special or worrying about how the race panned out as Rachael and Honeysuckle tracked long-time leader Love Envoi.

Turning for home Honeysuckle came under pressure, but she was still upsides Love Envoi and was driven into a marginal lead approaching the last. However, she was out-jumped by Love Envoi with that rival regaining the lead as they set up the Cheltenham hill.

But this day was never going to end in defeat for the brilliant Honeysuckle, who showed all the guts and fighting spirit that made her a Serial Winner, as she edged back to the lead under a power-packed ride from Rachael before coming clear at the line to record an emotional success.

Nineteen races, 17 wins, Honeysuckle will forever be remembered as one of the greatest mares of the modern era, and she retired after her fourth victory at the Cheltenham Festival. For that we only have one person to thank, and that of course is Rachael Blackmore for producing yet another magical moment.

Check out all Betfair's Serial Winners columns here.

Watch Rachael Blackmore Serial Winners trailer here...


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