Honeysuckle was the fourth Cheltenham Festival win in Rachael Blackmore’s career
|Events: 16.-19. March Conference location: Cheltenham Racecourse Run: 13: 20-16: 50 GMT Main race: 15:05|
|Cover: Comments on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, Radio 5 Live feature races. Race maps, live text, results and reports on the BBC Sport website and app|
Jockey Rachael Blackmore said she hoped her historic triumph could inspire others after winning the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham on Honeysuckle.
She is the first woman to ride the championship race winner on Tuesday.
“There’s no longer a deal to be a jockey. If you want to be a jockey, you can be a jockey, keep going,” Irish rider, 31, told Blackmore.
“For young people, if you want to do something, go and do it. Anything can happen to me, standing here right now.”
Honeysuckle trainer Henry de Bromhead welcomed the combination of rider and horse – the unbeaten mare celebrated her eleventh victory in a row.
“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
As the daughter of a dairy farmer and a school teacher, she came a long way from her Tipperary trips aboard ponies as a child and was inspired by a visit to three-time Champion Hurdle winner Istabraq.
“We visited Istabraq on a school tour. When we visited then, I never imagined that I would ride the winner of a champion hurdle,” she said.
“When everyone becomes a jockey, they dream of racing at Cheltenham and all these things, but to have a winner like that is incredible.”
Blackmore had once considered becoming a veterinarian, getting a degree in equine science, and combining her studies with horse riding and competitions as an amateur before turning pro in 2015.
She is a quiet pioneer – she has won among the top three Irish jockeys for the last two seasons and is currently runner-up this season, just six winners behind Paul Townend.
Honeysuckle is owned by Kenny Alexander who, as managing director, increased Ladbrokes and Coral’s parent company from £ 26m to £ 4.5bn until he stepped down last year.
The only shame for him was that he couldn’t personally cheer for the win – the meeting is being held behind closed doors due to coronavirus restrictions.
“It’s people who make Cheltenham,” added Blackmore. “Fair play for everyone here, they cheered when we got back and it’s still very special, but it’s definitely not the normal Cheltenham it was before. Hopefully we’ll see the thousands here again next year.”
Tiger Rolls Final? – Highlights on Wednesday
Tiger Roll, who has won four times at the Cheltenham Festival, will not compete in next month’s Grand National
On the second day of the festival on Wednesday, the focus will be on a rising star and some old favorites.
Chacun Pour Soi, who was late retired by trainer Willie Mullins last year, is the favorite for Queen Mother Champion Chase.
Rivals include last year’s winner Politologue, who was trained by Paul Nicholls, and Nube Negra, who is saddled by Nicholl’s former assistant Dan Skelton.
Two-time Grand National winner Tiger Roll runs in the cross country chase for Denise ‘Sneezy’ Foster, who has taken the reins while Gordon Elliott is serving a six-month ban.
Owner Michael O’Leary has suggested the horse could retire after this year’s race in which he is aiming for a fifth festival triumph.
He hopes to bridge the gap with last year’s winner Easysland, the French challenger who beat Tiger Roll by 17 lengths in 2020.