When it comes to rewriting the record books, Rachael Blackmore has few peers.
The 32 year old has long established herself as one of National Hunt racing’s leading jockeys. But his achievements over the past 12 months have raised his profile to stratospheric levels.
Blackmore lit up a 2021 festival that was to be held behind closed doors – becoming the first woman to win the Champion Hurdle with a win aboard Honeysuckle and relegating six winners in total to see her crowned the meeting’s top rider, another first.
A few weeks later, she received worldwide fame after guiding Minella Times to historic success in the Grand National at Aintree.
And now she has the Gold Cup to add to her rapidly growing collection after her faith in last year’s runner-up A Plus Tard was vindicated by sensational style.
No match for Minella Indo a year ago, A Plus Tard turned the tide and more – enjoying the coolest rides as he followed his stable mate to the final fence before sprinting down the hill for a whopping 15 length verdict.
“I’m so lucky,” said a typically modest Blackmore afterwards.
“I can’t believe it hasn’t even been 12 months since the Grand National happened.
“This week Honeysuckle won another Champion Hurdle and now this one. I wish I had better English to describe how I feel, to be honest. It’s very overwhelming.
There was never any question of Blackmore changing sides for this year’s Gold Cup.
While many observers felt A Later Tard was simply overtaken by Minella Indo last season, Blackmore felt she was partly to blame. And boy did she set the record straight.
She added: “I was happy that I would rather be beaten for something different than being in the same position as last year because it definitely didn’t work out.
“He felt very happy throughout the race this year. He jumped fantastically and I was able to bring him back all over the place.
“He was good in the last two and picked up incredibly after the last one. It’s an incredible feeling at the end of the last one at Cheltenham when they start like him.
“I never worried about A Plus Tard’s endurance. I was just aware of not using his speed like I did last year. His stamina was not a concern, the trick I was going to give him was the concern!
Just as she did aboard defending champion Honeysuckle earlier in the week, Blackmore returned to the winner’s enclosure and a wall of noise, with just a brief lift of her gloves sending the gathered masses into rapture. .
“Cheltenham is such a special place, but it’s so special because of the atmosphere and the people,” Blackmore continued.
“To pick them all up and go home when you can’t see any space and only see bodies is the closest thing you can feel to feeling like a rock star without being able to sing!
“The Gold Cup is what the whole week is gearing up for. When I turned professional, my ambition was to overcome my 7-pound claim. I could never see myself doing that as an amateur.
“I guess things escalated considerably from that!”
A particularly proud onlooker was Blackmore’s father, Charles.
“It’s an unforgettable moment to be here and see her win,” he said.
“To have the whole family here, apart from Eimir (Blackmore’s mum), who was holding the fort at home, it’s just amazing.
“I can’t believe what she’s been up to for the past 12 months. He’s such a nice person. She talks to everyone and gives everyone a bit of her time, but she also knows when to draw the line. I don’t know how she does it but she is able to balance riding the horse, dealing with owners, trainers and the press. She gets a balance that doesn’t bother anyone, which is hard to achieve.
“She was always determined growing up. She’ll be at Thurles tomorrow and that’s what she’ll focus on because that’s how her mind works.
With Blackmore naturally the center of attention, De Bromhead was more than happy to take a back seat.
His feat, however, should not be underestimated in winning the first two games of the most prestigious hurdle race two seasons in a row, especially at the climax of a campaign that has seen ups and downs for the county maestro. of Waterford.
“It’s just mental – amazing stuff,” he said.
“It’s definitely different this year with the crowd. Standing here looking at the bleachers is incredible. That’s what it’s all about.
“It was amazing to win last year, but it’s triple amazing this year with everyone here.
“For them to have the roar this year – Rachael, the horses. It was amazing to win last year, but with the crowd here, it’s just a different league.
“I would like to allow myself to enjoy it more.”
Of Blackmore, he added: “She is extremely professional and works extremely hard. If a mistake is made, she learns from it and corrects it.
“She’s just a pleasure to work with, a great person and a brilliant rider. She also has enormous ability, obviously.
“The horses want to run for her. The other day she was training Honeysuckle in the field and she jumped well and even before she went to stop she was patting her neck. She’s a real rider.