Name: Rachael Blackmore
Date of birth: 11th July 1989
Career highlight: Top jockey at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival with six winners, including the Champion Hurdle and Ryanair Chase.
Interesting fact: Blackmore initially wanted to train as a vet but ended up studying equine science at the University of Limerick. Some believe that a thorough academic understanding of the racehorse has helped Blackmore gain a competitive advantage over her rival jockeys.
10 years of hard work and determination has seen Blackmore begin to reap rewards at the highest level. She’s now a regular fixture in all major contests and commands the respect of all fans of the sport.
The peak of Blackmore’s achievements to date came in the 2021 Cheltenham Festival where she became the first woman to win the Champion Hurdle, before going on to register six winners across the meeting.
Rachael Blackmore is from a small town called Killenaule in Tipperary. Her father is a dairy farmer and her mother a school teacher.
Blackmore has always had something of a daredevil character, an ingredient very much needed to become a top-level jockey. Her mother, Eimir, said “she continuously climbed out of her cot even well before her first birthday. We knew she was going to have an adventurous disposition.”
The top jockey didn’t come from a racing family but did ride ponies on her family farm and was initially taught to ride by her father.
One of Blackmore’s fondest memories growing up was her first Pony Club race win at 13 years old in Cork, where she beat future Champion Jockey Paul Townend.
Before becoming a conditional jockey in March 2015, Blackmore combined riding out and her studies at Limerick University before going on to claim 11 point-to-point winners and seven winners as an amateur.
The 2016 / 2017 season is when Blackmore gained wider notoriety as she won 32 races on her way to winning the Irish Conditional Jockeys’ Championship.
Blackmore’s career began to snowball from there with top trainer Henry de Bromhead setting up a partnership with her in 2017. The duo got off to a flying start with Blackmore banging in winners with considerable regularity during that summer season and they’ve never looked back since.
Over the next few years, Blackmore showed she was not only a consistent performer but she could deliver on the big stage too.
Without doubt of the biggest goals for any Jump Jockey is to have a winner at the Cheltenham Festival.
It was a dream that Blackmore realised in 2019 aboard A Plus Tard in the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase. In the same Festival, Blackmore became the first woman to ride a Grade 1 winner over hurdles at the Festival with Minella Indo in the Albert Bartlett.
Over the next two years, Rachael has gone on two ride ridden seven Cheltenham Festival winners; one in 2020 before going on to create sporting history in the 2021 Festival with six victories.
After winning the Champion Hurdle, Blackmore remained typically humble, thanking the yard for the opportunity, “I can’t believe we just won the Champion Hurdle. Incredible. Unbelievable for everyone in the yard, they all work so hard.”
“It doesn't matter what you are. We are jockeys. It is just a privilege to be here. To young people out there, male, female, whatever, if you want to do something, go and do it because to me, standing here right now, literally anything can happen.”
The horse most synonymous with Rachael Blackmore is Honeysuckle. The mare was Blackmore’s first Grade 1 winner in Ireland and the pair have gone on to record an astonishing 11 consecutive victories.
Trainer Henry de Bromhead commented, “Rachael is a brilliant rider on any horse and Honeysuckle is just a brilliant horse. A ruthless combination – it’s the perfect storm.”
Blackmore has been in the hunt for the Irish Jump Jockeys’ Championship for the last three seasons. She came a close second in the 2018 / 2019 season with 90 winners and 61 winners in the following season finishing third (season curtailed due to COVID).
Blackmore is certain to break her winners tally for a season in the 2020 / 2021 championship, she’s currently on 85 winners and only six behind reigning Champion Jockey Paul Townend.
Above all Rachael Blackmore loves the game because of horses and the connection she has with the animal. She told the Irish Times, “horses are like people – they all have different characters and traits, and it’s really nice when they are happy to walk for you and are not agitated or upset.”
“Horses get anxious, and a lot do know what winning is. They just walk a bit prouder. They are extremely intelligent, and they love racing. A win is mostly to do with the horse, nine times out of 10.”