The 2021 Top Jockey of Cheltenham Rachael Blackmore will be aiming for further glory this season aboard some familiar names.
The 33-year-old jockey has enjoyed incredible success at the festival over the last four years with Blackmore becoming the first female jockey to win the Gold Cup with A Plus Tard in 2022 and she will be looking for more success aboard the 9-year-old.
At Cheltenham, Blackmore has a running tally of 12 winners at the legendary track and it is likely she will add to this record this week. With already 2 Champion Hurdle victories and a Gold Cup to her name, hopes are high that Blackmore will continue her winning streak, with much hope resting on defending Gold Cup Champion A Plus Tard, with legendary trainer Henry DeBromhead expecting him to be in top for for the big race on March 17th.
Rachael Blackmore and A Plus Tard are the #Cheltenham Gold Cup winners!
After finishing runners-up last year, Blackmore went one better this time around as the pair were the runaway winners this afternoon. That's now the #ChampionHurdle and #GoldCup in the bag! pic.twitter.com/5Ss7z22tLV
— Her Sport (@HerSportDotIE) March 18, 2022
Blackmore is also listed to ride Magical Zoe, who was the winner in Down Royal, in the Jack de Bromhead Mare's Novices Hurdle on March 16th, with the race now being named and honoured in memory of trainer Henry de Bromhead's son Jack who tragically passed away last year.
The Tipperary jockey is also set for a final ride with the legendary Honeysuckle in the Mare's Hurdle. Honeysuckle, is bidding to end her exceptional career with a fourth and final Festival success before she faces into well-deserved retirement.
THE HISTORY MAKERS!
Win a second Champion Hurdle!#CheltenhamFestival pic.twitter.com/C0WPpQmlbP
— Virgin Media Sport (@VMSportIE) March 15, 2022
Both Blackmore and Honeysuckle will always be associated with one another, having ran 18 races together, winning 16. With 2 defeats this season, connections of Honeysuckle have opted not to drive for a hat-trick in the Champion Hurdle, but instead will aim for the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle.
Speaking to Betfair, Blackmore said she would love nothing more than for the 9-year-old mare to go out on a high with a fairytale ending, with both horse and rider having experienced so much together.
"It's a very strong race, but Honeysuckle is in great order at home, she's showing us all the right signs, everyone is happy with her."
“She showed that when she battled to hold off Vauban for second place behind State Man in the Irish Champion Hurdle last month."
“She is an unbelievable mare and she has been an unbelievable mare for me. She has been incredible for my career. All that she has achieved, and I have been lucky enough to get to ride her."
“As has been well publicised, this will be her last race, I won’t be looking back. We can look back when it’s over. She has given us all the big days that she could have given us so far, the crowds have been brilliant and I would love her to have one more big day.”
👑 Fairytale ending to a glittering career?@Betfair Ambassador @rachaelblackmor has a trio of chances on Day 1 of the #CheltenhamFestival
All eyes though will be on super mare Honeysuckle...
— Betfair Racing (@BetfairRacing) March 13, 2023
Blackmore is no stranger to accolades, winning awards like the Her Sport Athlete of the Year and the RTÉ Sportsperson of the Year in 2021, it is undeniable that Blackmore has elevated female riders and female athletes to another level due to her success.
Over the course of the four day Festival, the first race will begin at 13:30 with the last race at 17:30, and the feature races of each day usually at 15:30.