GERALDINE REES: Rachael Blackmore’s Grand National win is so special and I’m really happy for her

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GERALDINE REES: Ever since I became the first female jockey to complete the Grand National, I’ve been waiting for this day … I couldn’t be happier for Rachael Blackmore

  • Rachael Blackmore’s win was something everyone had to see happen
  • The first female Grand National winner is an incredibly special day to race
  • It’s a shame Blackmore didn’t get the roar of the crowd alongside her win

For nearly 40 years since I became the first female jockey to complete the Grand National, I’ve watched and waited for this day and couldn’t be happier for Rachael Blackmore.

This is such a special race day, such a special day for everyone and something we all had to see happen.

She made history for heaven’s sake and did I encourage her for the line? Definitely I was. I couldn’t be happier.

Rachael Blackmore's Grand National win was something we all had to see happen

Rachael Blackmore’s Grand National win was something we all had to see happen

Rachael gave Minella Times such a great ride, but we shouldn’t be surprised by that, as she’s a brilliant jockey.

The fast ground was a concern, as horses tend to go a little faster and have a hard time overseeing the journey, and there were doubts about Minella getting the distance anyway.

But Rachael was relaxed, never over-excited, and the horse was able to lob along, and once they got to The Elbow, it never seemed in doubt.

Rachael said she didn’t feel like a woman, she didn’t feel like a man, she didn’t even feel like a human being. I think she’s superhuman.

Geraldine Rees rides Cheers at the 1982 Grand National and is the first female jockey to finish

Geraldine Rees rides Cheers at the 1982 Grand National and is the first female jockey to finish

Geraldine Rees rides Cheers at the 1982 Grand National and is the first female jockey to finish

What she’s done in Cheltenham, what she’s done at Aintree, it’s incredible and it’s been a great day for women’s racing.

Was I a pioneer all those years ago? I’m not so sure about that. I am still so, so proud of what I did in 1982 when Cheers and I crossed the line and I became the first female jockey to finish.

It was very exciting then and I couldn’t get over the roar of the crowd. It’s a shame Rachael didn’t understand that.

But that was a different time. These girls are very different jockeys these days, professional through and through, not like someone like me 40 years ago.

Rachael gave Minella Times such a great ride at Aintree for being a brilliant jockey

Rachael gave Minella Times such a great ride at Aintree for being a brilliant jockey

Rachael gave Minella Times such a great ride at Aintree for being a brilliant jockey

Jockeys have improved so much in 40 years and keep raising the bar. When AP McCoy came by, he was the ultimate professional and set new standards. And those standards have continued to rise; they all ride so well, including the girls.

We had good jockeys in my day, but some of them, like Rachael, are exceptional. She is in a class of her own, a brilliant rider and an inspiration to all women.

This is such a great moment. We all needed a lift because we’ve been through such a dark, awful time and what Rachael did in Aintree, over those famous fences and in this beautiful old race, will have lifted the whole nation.

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