Having enjoyed an extraordinary few days at the Cheltenham Festival last month when she finished the meeting as champion jockey, there is something somewhat peculiar about woman-of-the-moment Rachael Blackmore. It goes far beyond her gender and also beyond the distinction between Flat and jumps racing. As she prepares for the 2021 Randox Grand National aboard 9/1 shot Minella Times, there can be little doubt that here is a rider who can move markets.
Well before Rachael Blackmore was confirmed as jockey, Minella Times was receiving much backing two weeks ago with punters looking to get ahead of the huge tidal wave of money anticipated this morning. Following a close examination of Minella Times’ form little more will likely be punted although in fairness this runner has as much chance as most in this race. Most bets will be placed simply because of who is in the saddle.
Blackmore’s background was one of ‘equine’ rather than exclusively racing, however no-one needs reminded that the Grand National is the one race that sends everyone and their granny to the betting shops (or online equivalent).
Blackmore said on Friday: “My first memory of racing is watching the Grand National. Some friends of mine, it was at their house, I remember they did a sweepstake and watching it. I can’t remember who won or who was riding it but I can remember the buzz that was in the house that day when that race was on.
“The Grand National captures everyone’s imagination and I think any kid on a pony, out hunting or jumping anything that resembles a bit of a hedge, you’re thinking about the Grand National.”
While she picked the wrong option from Henry de Bromhead’s two runners in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last month, this choice didn’t arise in the Grand National with Minella Times being a promising profile for the toughest test of the season.
She said: “He’ll jump and he’ll travel. I’m really looking forward to riding him. He’s had two very nice runs in handicaps at home, he seems very well and his jumping technique is good. It’s the Grand National and anything can happen, but I wouldn’t swap him, anyway.
“Henry put up some Aintree-style fences at home and he seemed to take to them very well. You’d just be really looking forward to riding something like him.”