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The Grand National: Rachael Blackmore becomes the first female jockey to win the Grand National after stunning ride on Minella Times


Rachael Blackmore celebrates after winning The Grand National on Minella Times.

Rachael Blackmore celebrates after winning The Grand National on Minella Times.

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Rachael Blackmore celebrates after winning The Grand National on Minella Times.

Rachael Blackmore has become the first female jockey to win The Grand National, leading 11/1 shot Minella Times to victory.

The Irish rider, 31, was top jockey at the Cheltenham Festival - where she won the Champion Hurdle - and crowned a fabulous season with an historic triumph in the world's greatest steeplechase.

The writing was on the wall when she took Minella Times into the lead before the final fence, although she had to keep the Henry de Bromhead-trained eight-year-old up to his work as the famous Elbow approached.

Blackmore and Minella Times (11-1) were not for stopping, though, and galloped into racing folklore to win in the colours of JP McManus.

Balko Des Flos (100-1), ridden by Aidan Coleman, was second to give De Bromhead an incredible one-two.

Any Second Now (15-2) was third, with Burrows Saint (9-1) fourth and Farclas (16-1) fifth, as Irish-trained horses filled all those places.

Blackmore told ITV Racing: "I just cannot believe it. He was an absolutely sensational spin.

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"What Henry de Bromhead does with these horses, I don't know! I'm so lucky to be riding them, I just cannot believe I'm after winning the Grand National. This is unbelievable."

Blackmore was full of praise for Minella Times, one of seven horses in the race owned by JP McManus - among them Any Second Now.

She added: "He was just incredible, he jumped beautifully.

"I was trying to wait for as long as I could - when we jumped the last and I asked him for a bit, he was there. It's just incredible.

"I don't feel male or female right now - I don't even feel human. This is just unbelievable."

After the race, trainer De Bromhead said: "It's fantastic. Rachael is breaking all records. We’re just delighted.

"It looked like Rachael had the race won at the last, but we all know how that can change. Any Second Now looked a bit unlucky with his passage and he started to come back at us and obviously Balko was staying on as well.

"Rachael got a great passage all the way round, a lot of luck on her side and he winged fences for her. It was brilliant."

Blackmore also received congratulations from President Michael D Higgins, with a tweet from the President of Ireland Twitter account saying: ““My congratulations to Rachael Blackmore on an historic achievement at Aintree. Today’s win is both a personal and sporting success, and comes only a month after her groundbreaking wins at Cheltenham.”

Blackmore previously encouraged young riders to follow their dreams, as she never imagined making it as far as she has.

She was dubbed the ‘Queen of Cheltenham’ after winning six races, becoming the first female jockey to claim a Champion Hurdle and being named the leading jockey at the festival.

Speaking to RTÉ Radio 1’s Morning Ireland last month, the Tipperary jockey said: “When I was in pony club I never thought I could be a Rachael Blackmore.

“So, I think for all of them [young riders] they should just dream however they want to, it can be achieved.

“If you work hard and you get the opportunities anything can happen.”

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