She got knocked down but she got up again – you’re never going to
keep Rachael Blackmore down, writes Paul Martin.
Especially not at Cheltenham, where Blackmore was returning on Friday for the first time since etching her name into the history books in March.
A look at the SSS Super Alloys Novices' Chase race card would see Blackmore back in the Prestbury Park winner’s enclosure and perhaps assume business as usual – but this victory needed a remarkable piece of horsemanship from the 2021 Festival’s leading
jockey after a dramatic finish.
Blackmore was aboard Gin On Lime, taking on just Harry Skelton’s My Drogo in a two-horse race which sparked into life at the second last.
The odds-on favourite had closed the gap on Henry de Bromhead’s mare and looked set to pounce up the home straight, only for both horses to stumble two from home.
My Drogo dismounted Dan Skelton but Blackmore produced a remarkable sit to stay on board her mare, who regathered her composure to safely negotiate the last and seal a triumph in bizarre circumstances.
“It was very strange, a two-horse race, and it just shows you anything can happen,” Blackmore said.
“She was so honest to get up and keep going like that. Incredible.
“She just slipped at the back of it. She didn’t put in her best round of jumping, she was looking at a lot else here and there was a lot going on around the place.
“She just wasn’t sure where she was going but she was so incredibly honest to do that. I love Cheltenham!"
De Bromhead admitted he was fortunate to come away with the victory but hailed Blackmore for keeping her composure when it mattered.
“Many days out in the hunting fields stood to her there,” he said. “She was brilliant.
“It was mad, wasn’t it? We looked beaten, I don’t think the favourite deserved it at all. He jumped brilliantly throughout. It worked out in our favour, so it’s brilliant for us.
“I’m not sure she [Gin On Lime] was quite herself. She’s quite a buzzy lady and she’d normally run with a lot more zest.
“We said we’d come over here to have a look with a view to the Mare’s Chase in the spring. We’ve been on the go all summer and maybe this was one run too many – but it’s great to have a win.”
Blackmore was immediately back in the saddle on the first day of Cheltenham’s November meeting and finished fifth on board Aintree Grand National runner-up Balko Des Flos in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase, won by favourite Back On The Lash.
On Saturday, she will be steering Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle winner Bob Olinger around his debut over fences at Punchestown at 12pm.
It was yet another great day to be Irish in Gloucestershire as Charles Byrnes’s Blazing Khal won the day’s only graded, the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.
The five-year-old won his maiden at Galway last time out under Donal McInerney and enjoyed the step up in trip to do the same.
Blazing Khal put in a powerful performance over 2m5f to prevail by two and a half lengths from Gelino Bello for Paul Nicholls.