Rachael Blackmore: Jockey reflects on historic Cheltenham win with Honeysuckle

By Frank KeoghBBC Sport at Cheltenham
Rachael Blackmore
Honeysuckle was the fourth Cheltenham Festival victory of Rachael Blackmore's career
Cheltenham Festival 2021
Dates: 16-19 March Venue: Cheltenham Racecourse Races: 13:20-16:50 GMT Main race: 15:05
Coverage: Commentaries on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, feature races Radio 5 live. Racecards, live text, results & reports on the BBC Sport website and app

Jockey Rachael Blackmore said she hoped her historic triumph might inspire others after winning the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham on Honeysuckle.

She is the first woman to ride the winner of Tuesday's championship race.

"There is no deal about being a female jockey anymore. If you want to be a jockey you can be a jockey, drive on," said Irish rider Blackmore, 31.

"To young people, if you want to do something go and do it. For me standing here right now, anything can happen."

Honeysuckle's trainer Henry de Bromhead hailed the combination of rider and horse - the unbeaten mare was clocking up her 11th successive victory.

"Rachael is a brilliant rider on any horse and Honeysuckle is just a brilliant horse. The combination is deadly - it's the perfect storm," he said.

The rise of Rachael Blackmore

The daughter of a dairy farmer and a school teacher, she has come a long way from her Tipperary trips aboard ponies as a child and was inspired herself by a visit to three-time Champion Hurdle winner Istabraq.

"We went to see Istabraq on a school tour. I never envisaged when we went to see him back then that I'd be riding the winner of a Champion Hurdle," she said.

"When every person becomes a jockey they dream about riding at Cheltenham and all these things, but riding a winner like this is unbelievable. "

Blackmore had once considered becoming a vet, gaining a degree in equine science and combining her studies with riding out and competing as an amateur before turning professional in 2015.

She has gone on to be a quiet pioneer - finishing in the top three in the Irish jockeys' championship for the last two seasons and is currently in second this season, just six winners behind Paul Townend.

Honeysuckle is owned by Kenny Alexander, who as chief executive took the parent company of Ladbrokes and Coral from a worth of £26m to £4.5bn until stepping down last year.

The only shame for him was not being able to cheer the victory on in person - the meeting is taking place behind closed doors because of coronavirus restrictions.

"The people are what make Cheltenham," Blackmore added. "Fair play to everyone here, they gave a cheer when we came back in, and it's still very special, but it's definitely not the normal Cheltenham of old. Hopefully we will see the thousands back here next year."

Tiger Roll's finale? - Wednesday's highlights

Tiger Roll
Tiger Roll, who has won four times at the Cheltenham Festival, will not run in next month's Grand National

Focus moves to a rising star and some old favourites on the second day of the Festival on Wednesday.

Chacun Pour Soi, who was a late withdrawal last year by trainer Willie Mullins, is favourite for the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

Rivals include last year's winner Politologue, trained by Paul Nicholls, and Nube Negra, who will be saddled by Nicholls' former assistant Dan Skelton.

Two-time Grand National winner Tiger Roll runs in the Cross Country Chase for Denise 'Sneezy' Foster, who has taken over the reins while Gordon Elliott serves a six-month ban.

Owner Michael O'Leary has suggested the horse might be retired after this year's race where he seeks a fifth Festival triumph.

He will be hoping to close the gap on last year's winner Easysland, the French challenger who beat Tiger Roll by 17 lengths in 2020.

Day two schedule

13:20 - Ballymore Novices' Hurdle 2m 5f

13:55 - Brown Advisory Novices' Chase 3m 80y

14:30 - Coral Cup Hurdle 2m 5f

15:05 - Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase 1m 7f 199y

15:40 - Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase 3m 6f 37y

16:15 - Johnny Henderson Close Brother Handicap Chase 1m 7f 199y

16:50 - Weatherbys Champion Bumper 2m 87y

BBC coverage

13:15-17:00 - BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra

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