Aside from a monumental victory aboard A Plus Tard in the Gold Cup, becoming the first female rider to win the historic blue ribband race, Rachael Blackmore largely failed to emulate her success from the 2021 Cheltenham Festival, when he scooped the Top Jockey accolade with some six winners, at last month’s renewal of the Prestbury Park meeting.
For that incredible Gold Cup success, and her other two victories over the course of the four-day Festival for that matter, she still deserves immense credit though. And with the Grand National Festival on the horizon, getting underway at Aintree on Thursday (April 7th), she will be one of the first names punters look out for when scouring the internet for the best horse racing tips.
‘The Blackmore effect’ is quickly becoming a cliché in jump racing, but when she keeps winning big race after big race, it’s hard to deny that it’s very much alive and kicking. So, with that in mind, read on as we take a look at three rides Blackmore could be booked in for at Aintree this week — bare in mind that not all of these have been confirmed at the time of writing.
Lady Excalibur – Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race
Blackmore’s only confirmed ride at Aintree at this point is aboard the exciting Lady Excalibur in the Mares’ Flat Race — the last race on the opening day of the meeting. The Irish jockey has been a long-time target of the five-year-old’s owner, but due to injuries and other factors, they have never been able to get Blackmore in the saddle.
Tom O’Brien took the reigns for her first two rides, winning on debut at Stratford last July before coming second at Uttoxeter in October. Harry Cobden was in the saddle for her third outing at Ascot, less than 10 days after the Uttoxeter trip, and went on to beat Last Of A Legend by a length from 5/1.
Lady Excalibur hasn’t run since though, missing the Flat Race at the Cheltenham November Meeting due to unsuitable ground, and is fancied as somewhat of an outsider for this contest at 12/1. With a decent record and Blackmore in the saddle, we’re sure she’ll get a lot of backing though.
Gin On Lime – Manifesto Novices’ Chase
With Blackmore booked for the Lady Excalibur ride later on in the opening card, she’ll likely take the reigns of Gin On Lime in the Manifesto Novices’ Chase. Trained by Henry de Bromhead, the six-year-old is a horse Blackmore knows well — having been in the saddle for five of the mare’s eight races since changing from Jessica Harrington’s yard in October 2020.
Interestingly, Blackmore has guided the novice chaser to victory in all of their last four trips together — including last time out, when it looked like My Drogo and Gin On Lime had both fallen two out in a two-horse race. However, Blackmore managed an incredible recovery and ran on to win.
While the six-year-old also holds an entry in the Mildmay Novices’ Chase, it’s more likely that she’ll feature in the Manifesto — which is looking to be a hugely competitive contest. Gin On Lime is currently a 5/1 shot, with the likes of Pic D’Orhy (2/1) and War Lord (5/2) more fancied.
Minella Times – Grand National
Wrapping things up with Blackmore’s ride in the National, the 32-year-old will be hoping to defend her title with back-to-back victories aboard Minella Times. The De Bromhead-trained horse will need a springle of the Blackmore effect if he is to become a dual winner of the marathon race though, with her form leaving much to be desired this season.
A faller on her reappearance in the John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown in December, the nine-year-old was pulled up by Blackmore at Leopardstown next time out in February. They have their work cut out if they are to emulate the likes of Tiger Roll and Red Rum and gain access to the winners’ enclosure for a second successive year.
Carrying the top weight will not do Minella Times any favours over the gruelling trip either, and when you consider all the factors that are stacked against him, 16/1 seems a bit disingenuous from the bookies — who are perhaps a bit wary of the Blackmore factor!