Rachael Blackmore is hungry for success after making history last year

Rachael Blackmore is hungry for MORE success after becoming the first female jockey to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup last year with a barnstorming finish on A Plus Tard

  • A Plus Tard triumphed in the Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival last year
  • Rachael Blackmore became the first woman to ride a horse to a Gold Cup win
  • The 33-year-old is hungry for more success at the 2023 Festival later this month 

Rachael Blackmore’s thirst for success remains undiminished as the record-breaking rider bids to once again light up Prestbury Park at this year’s Cheltenham Festival. 

The 33-year-old is firmly established as one of the sport’s leading National Hunt jockeys, thanks in no small part to her achievements at the sport’s showpiece meeting in each of the past two seasons.

In 2021 Blackmore was the star attraction at a Festival that had to be run behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic, not only becoming the first female jockey to win the Champion Hurdle aboard the brilliant mare Honeysuckle but also picking up the Festival’s leading rider award with six winners.

With the small matter of a Grand National success sandwiched in between, she enjoyed another memorable week back at Cheltenham last March as Honeysuckle successfully defended her Champion Hurdle crown before A Plus Tard produced an impressive display under Blackmore in the Gold Cup.

It is clear Blackmore has plenty to live up to on her return to the Cotswolds, but recent history suggests that the pressure only illuminates her considerable talent further.

Rachael Blackmore made history on A Plus Tard, becoming the first ever woman to win the Gold Cup in the blue-riband event at the famous Cheltenham festival last year 

Blackmore is established as one of the sport’s leading National Hunt jockeys, thanks in no small part to her achievements at the sport’s showpiece meeting in the past two seasons

‘It all comes back around very quickly. Things don’t really ever stop in this sport and it’s mad to think we’re getting close to Cheltenham again,’ she said.

‘You love to get on the board early. When you’re riding for such a powerful stable like Henry de Bromhead’s and have such good rides, you’re hoping to get at least one on the board, but it’s a very difficult place to ride winners. It’s extremely competitive, but we’ll be trying our best.

‘The minute Cheltenham 2022 finishes, people are talking about 2023. That’s just the way Cheltenham is I think and you have to try to not get too wrapped up in it all and let it kind of creep up on you.

‘This is a really enjoyable and exciting time of year. There’s incredible racing and it’s an enjoyable time when you’re getting to ride the horses that are competing at this level.’

No horse has done more for Blackmore’s career than Honeysuckle, who looks set to return to Cheltenham in search of a fourth successive Festival success.

But having met with defeat for the first time when only third in her bid for a fourth Hatton’s Grace at Fairyhouse, and found State Man too strong in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown since, connections have decided against bidding for a Champion Hurdle hat-trick and she will instead revert to the Mares’ Hurdle, in which she beat Benie Des Dieux three years ago.

Blackmore raced clear of the field on the Henry de Bromhead-trained horse to win comfortably

Blackmore and A Plus Tard streaked clear of Minella Indo (centre) to win by 15 to 20 lengths

Blackmore said: ‘You become used to walking into the winner’s enclosure on her and it’s disappointing when that doesn’t happen, but she still ran an incredible race in the Irish Champion Hurdle. It was a very good performance, she just wasn’t good enough on the day.

‘I felt she really battled and was trying to chase State Man down. She could feel Vauban coming at the end and was making sure she stayed in front of him.

‘Opposition changes every year. The twice I’ve ridden her this year, I feel she’s run two incredibly good races and it’s a hard one when they have a record like she had and they get beaten, but that’s just the way it is unfortunately.’

Blackmore went on: ‘If she didn’t feel fantastic we wouldn’t be bringing her back to Cheltenham and it’s really exciting to be going over there with her again and it’s going to be a really fantastic race.


Paul Townend – 1/3

Nico de Boinville – 6/1

Danny Mullins – 9/1

Davy Russell – 12/1

Rachael Blackmore – 14/1

Jordan Gainford – 20/1

Harry Cobden – 33/1

Daryl Jacob – 33/1

Patrick Mullins – 40/1

Aidan Coleman – 66/1 

J J Slevin – 66/1

Jamie Codd – 100/1

Harry Skelton – 100/1

Brian Hughes – 150/1

Charlie Deutsch – 200/1

Odds via Paddy Power 

‘She’s been an incredible mare for me and my career. I think every jockey dreams of linking up with a horse like Honeysuckle and I’m just very lucky to find one like her.

‘She’s always going to be extremely special. Horses like her don’t come around very often and what she’s achieved and allowed me to achieve in my career will never be forgotten.

‘Hopefully the book hasn’t closed just yet and there’s another chapter to write.’

A Plus Tard was nothing short of sensational in last year’s Gold Cup as he powered 15 lengths clear of stablemate and previous winner Minella Indo in the style of a horse set to dominate the division.

Few could have imagined at that stage that A Plus Tard would be an 8-1 shot to make it back-to-back wins in the blue riband, but that is the case following a troubled campaign.

The Cheveley Park Stud-owned gelding produced a listless performance when defending the Betfair Chase title at Haydock, while a late setback denied him of the opportunity to bounce back in Leopardstown’s Savills Chase at at Christmas.

A Plus Tard will return to Cheltenham with questions to answer, but Blackmore has not lost any faith.

She said: ‘He was obviously very disappointing in the Betfair Chase, but a few niggly issues were found and they seem to be straightened out now.

‘He got the knock at Christmas, but I’d be very happy with him. He seems very well at home and all roads lead straight to the Gold Cup.

‘He hasn’t had the preparation we’d have liked, but I have no doubt Henry will get him there in perfect order for the day.’

In A Plus Tard’s absence, Galopin Des Champs has leapt to the head of the Gold Cup market with impressive wins in the John Durkan at Punchestown and the Irish Gold Cup.

Blackmore respects the Willie Mullins-trained runner, but feels anyone who underestimates her mount does so at their peril.

A Plus Tard was well back during most of the race but Blackmore picked her moment perfectly

‘I don’t know if there was an overreaction after Haydock, but we didn’t overreact. They’re racehorses and they can have these days. I was disappointed, but I’m not too worried,’ she added.

‘A Plus Tard was incredible last year, he really was. I got a lovely ride off him the whole way round and the way he quickened up after the last was pretty sensational.

‘There’s going to be a lot of depth in the race this year, Galopin Des Champs looked very good at the Dublin Racing Festival, but I’m very much looking forward to the Gold Cup again.

‘I’m not too bothered that people are forgetting about A Plus Tard – that doesn’t make any difference to me going into the race. I certainly haven’t forgotten about him.’

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