where the horse is always the hero
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Posted 2021-04-10 17:42:51  
Rachael Blackmore makes history on 11-1 Minella Times in 2021 Grand National

Rachael Blackmore created history on Saturday, becoming the first woman jockey to ride the winner of the Randox Grand National when completing a magical success in the world's most famous race aboard Minella Times for trainer Henry de Bromhead and owner JP McManus.

The leading rider at last month's Cheltenham Festival, Blackmore continued her dream season when partnering the eight-year-old to a wonderful victory from Balko Des Flos, Any Second Now and Burrows Saint.

In a watershed moment for the sport, Blackmore was at her brilliant best on 11-1 shot Minella Times, biding her time in the early stages before creeping into contention on the second circuit. The duo were in the lead over the last and and put daylight between themselves and their rivals coming to the Elbow before holding on tenaciously for one of the most remarkable wins in the race's history.

"I cannot believe it," said an ecstatic Blackmore. "He gave me an absolutely sensational spin. I'm so lucky to be riding him and I can't believe we've just won the Grand National, it's unbelievable.

"He was incredible and jumped beautifully and 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. I don't feel male or female right now, I don't even feel human! This is just unbelievable."

Victory also capped a remarkable season for winning trainer De Bromhead, winning the National for the first time having had five previous runners in the race and after training the winners of the Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase and Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival. And for good measure he also saddled the runner-up.

"It's just brilliant," said De Bromhead. "Rachael was brilliant on him and I'm just delighted. It was a super ride, she hardly left the rail. I'm over the moon and we're so lucky to have Rachael.

"Balko jumped super too and Aidan Coleman was brilliant on him. He's run an absolute cracker. It's the stuff you dream of, I've been watching it since I was a kid."

Minella Times was a second winner in the race for McManus following Don't Push It's triumph in 2010 and the leading owner also owned filled third spot with Any Second Now.

In a mirror image of the Cheltenham Festival, horses trained in Ireland dominated the finish with Farclas in fifth making it a clean sweep of the first five places for the visiting team. Blaklion in sixth at 50-1 was the only horse trained in Britain to place in the first 11.

Jett, partnered by Sam Waley-Cohen, set the race alight, opening up a lead Crisp would have been proud of on the second circuit, with favourite Cloth Cap the first to try and bridge the gap.

'We'll get him checked out'

Cloth Cap was soon beaten, however, with rider Tom Scudamore pulling him up before the third-last, with Jett still leading.

"Tom said he was going along grand and then he just started gurgling a little bit and he did the right thing pulling him up," said Cloth Cap's trainer Jonjo O'Neill. "He was having a great run and everything was going grand. We'll get him checked out, but it'll be his wind, I think."

The chasing pack swamped the leader before the second-last and down to the final fence it was Minella Times and Balko Des Flos who forged on.

Minella Times landed running and maintained his lead all the way to the line to create a huge slice of sporting history.

Patrick Mullins, bidding to become the first amateur to win the race in 31 years, was thrilled with the effort of Burrows Saint in fourth and said: "I got a fantastic spin. He jumped fantastic. I was chatting with Rachael going past the stands with a lap to go and we were both very happy where we were.

"We were side by side all the way. I was trying to get a lead off her but I couldn't go with her after the second-last. He got very tired, maybe he didn't stay."

There was a sad postscript with The Long Mile sustaining a fatal injury while running on the flat between obstacles, while rider Bryony Frost was assessed on course by the medical team at Aintree after being unseated from Yala Enki and was later transported to hospital for further assessment.

Credit:Racing Post Online 

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