‘It gives every young girl hope of winning the biggest race in the world’

SIR AP McCoy has led the tributes to Rachael Blackmore after she became the first female rider to win the Randox Grand National in 173 renewals.

Rachael Blackmore has beocme the first female jockey to win the Randox Grand National.

The pioneering 31-year-old’s victory came on the JP McManus-owned Minella Times – and in the same colours of Don’t Push It who McCoy rode to National glory in 2010.

“She’s got it all and she’s proved it on the biggest stage. Everyone in the world can now see it,” said the 20-times champion jockey and only person to ride more than 4,000 winners under National Hunt rules. “Look it’s a brilliant thing for horse racing that she’s won. She’s an amazing rider and she proved that at Cheltenham, but to win the biggest horse race in the world is great for the sport.

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“It gives every young girl hope of winning the biggest race in the world and winning any racing for that matter – she can do it all.”

Minella Times and Rachael Blackmore (green and gold colours) clear the water jump in the Randox Grand National.

Minella Times is trained in Ireland by Henry de Bromhead whose stablemate Balko Des Flos was second as Irish-trained horses filled the first five places.

Just three of the 15 finishers were British-trained – further confirming the current superiority of the Irish and, in particular Blackmore and de Bromhead, who dominated last month’s Cheltenham Festival.

“I’m absolutely delighted for Rachael. It’s brilliant for her and no one deserves it more,” said de Bromhead whose first National success follows wins in the Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase and Gold Cup three weeks ago.

Like all National winners, Blackmore and Minella Times had one piece of luck – and that came at the 12th fence when Double Shuffle and Jonathan Burke fell heavily.

This was Rachael Blackmore immediately after winning the Randox Grand National on Minella Times.

She, and her mount, had, in the strides before the fence, eased to the right of Double Shuffle whose unexpected fall badly hampered Any Second Now who ran on to finish third in the McManus colours for Ted Walsh.

By way of contrast, Brian Hughes, the reigning British champion jockey, was a first fence casualty on Lake View Lad – the fourth time, in eight National rides, that the North Yorkshire rider has failed to negotiate the obstacle.

He was already walking back to the weighing room as Jett blazed a trail before ante-post favourite Cloth Cap was the first of the pursuers to fall away.

However Blackmore, who had always been prominent on Minella Times, had the confidence to take up the running at the second last knowing that she, and her horse, were good enough, to see off their Irish rivals.

“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,” she said afterwards.

“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 cited the influence of two-time National winner Ruby Walsh and his sister Katie who was third on Seabass in 2012. “They often talk about a semi-circle in front of you and I felt like I had that everywhere,” added Blackmore.

“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.”

Those unable to land a blow included Yorkshire’s Definitly Red who was pulled up by Ryan Mania, a late replacement for concussion victim Henry Brooke, before the 29th fence.

The winner of five Grade Two races for Phil and Julie Martin in a career that also saw him line up in two Gold Cups, the 12-year-old has now been retired. “He’s going to take some replacing,” Ellison told The Yorkshire Post after confirming the decision. “He was a fantastic horse and he owes us nothing.”

Ellison said Definitly Red, a former Yorkshire horse of the year, was “fine” after his National exertions in which younger, and better-handicapped, horses had too much speed for his veteran.

He also praised 2013 National-winning rider Mania. “Red’s fine,” added the trainer. “They went quick and he never got into a rhythm. I told Ryan to look after him and he gave him a great ride, doing just that.”

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