It's not about gender or the history-books anymore, it's all about Rachael Blackmore
The so-called 'Sport of Kings' has a new queen.
In what has been a sensational week for the Irish raiders at the Cheltenham festival, Rachael Blackmore, all modesty and humility, stands head and shoulders above the rest. And though she might not want the credit for it, the Tipperary jockey hasn't so much stole the show as turned it back the front and wrote her own ground-breaking script.
Before this week, no female jockey had ever landed one of the championship races at Pretsbury Park. By ten past three on Tuesday, Blackmore and her beloved Honeysuckle had cantered to glory re-write those books. If you'd thought then that her work here was done, history behind her and the headlines in front of her, you had another thing coming your way. Blackmore had different headlines in mind.
Five exhibitions of race-riding later and the 30-year-old from Killenuale has scorched clear in the jockeys' championship standings, remarkably boasting one more win than the entirety of Great Britain have managed with just a day's racing to go. In the process of her blitz on the status quo, she has gone on to make her most important change of all.
Rachael Blackmore 5-4 Great Britain
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) March 18, 2021
For all the cheer about records and new ground being broken for females, Blackmore never wanted that to be the story. To be known as a jockey without the pre-fix has always been her goal and though that was going to be a tough ask given the drive to promote women's sport, there was one way she could do it. By making it the norm.
In steering Honeysuckle, then Bob Olinger, Sir Gerhard, Allaho and now Telmesomethingril to glory in one sensational week, Rachael Blackmore in the winners enclosure is now par for the course. Riding from the front aboard Sir Gerhard and Allaho, she stole a march on her colleagues and cleverly rode them to sleep. On Telmesomething girl, she came from off the pace with a piece of tactical wizardry. On Bob Olinger, Ruby Walsh was blown away as she showed her toughness to nudge Paul Townend out of the way before coasting clear.
"She has it all," said AP McCoy in awe.
The likes of McCoy, Walsh and Mick Fitzgerald are not calling her the best female jockey in the game anymore, they're now just calling her the best jockey. At the beginning of the week, the headlines were about women in sport and the history books, by the end of it, they'll just be about Rachael Blackmore. It's not an anomaly, it's the norm.