MARTIN SAMUEL: Chewy cookie Rachael Blackmore has turned 2021 into sports … racing is lucky

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Henry de Bromhead, the trainer whose successes have been rapid this season, making him National Hunt’s Aidan O’Brien, summed it up the best. “Aren’t we so lucky to have her?” he said.

And racing is. Rachael Blackmore single-handedly turned the 2021 story into her sport.

It has undoubtedly changed the future and the course of racing itself. Bring Blackmore with you and this would have been a year of outrage, of crossroads racing, certainly in the affection of the public.

The impact of superstar Rachael Blackmore's winning of the Grand National cannot be overstated

The impact of superstar Rachael Blackmore’s winning of the Grand National cannot be overstated

The 31-year-old jockey rode her first winner when she was an amateur more than a decade ago

The 31-year-old jockey rode her first winner when she was an amateur more than a decade ago

The 31-year-old jockey rode her first winner when she was an amateur more than a decade ago

When Richard Faulds won gold for Great Britain in the double-kick shooting at the 2000 Olympics, he was in tears on the podium, both for his sport and for himself.

In the aftermath of the 1996 Dunblane massacre, members of firearms clubs and shooting enthusiasts became pariahs. “A lot of shooters wanted to give up,” said Faulds’ coach James Mair. “You cannot describe what this victory will mean for the image of the sport.”

A photograph of Gordon Elliott straddling the dead novice hunter, Morgan, is in no way comparable to Dunblane’s atrocity, but it is true that horse racing and horse racing were never less regarded than in the days following its publication.

The long-held belief that racehorses were the most cared for animals on the planet was challenged.

Blackmore was the lead at the Cheltenham Festival this year before taking her biggest win

Blackmore was the lead at the Cheltenham Festival this year before taking her biggest win

Blackmore was the lead at the Cheltenham Festival this year before taking her biggest win

And once that belief crumbles, it’s a very small step to increasingly focus on equine fatalities, brutal accidents, cruel actions, and the dark side of human-horse relationships. And then came Rachael.

Actually, that’s not entirely true. Blackmore may be a household name now, but she’s not an overnight success.

She is 31, has a degree in equine science from the University of Limerick and received her first winner as an amateur over a decade ago, on February 10, 2011.

She was a champion conditional rider – the award for National Hunt jockeys under the age of 26 who have not won more than 75 races – in the 2016-17 season, and two seasons ago she came second in the Irish Jockey Championship with 90 winners from 615 rides. . .

The demure jockey's groundbreaking victory will perpetuate her status in sports history

The demure jockey's groundbreaking victory will perpetuate her status in sports history

The demure jockey’s groundbreaking victory will perpetuate her status in sports history

She was also the lead jockey at this year’s Cheltenham Festival. So this is coming.

It’s just that her career spike so far coincided with an equally dramatic low for her sport.

There will always be a Grand National winner, and that winner will always have a story to tell. Still, a conventional narrative wouldn’t have changed the perception of racing the way Blackmore did.

A conventional winner would still have had a connection with Elliott astride poor Morgan. Despite growing up on an Irish dairy farm less than two hours from where Elliott has his yard, Blackmore is somehow different.

Her career peak so far coincided with an equally dramatic low point for racing.  A conventional narrative wouldn't have changed the perception of racing the way Blackmore did

Her career peak so far coincided with an equally dramatic low point for racing.  A conventional narrative wouldn't have changed the perception of racing the way Blackmore did

Her career peak so far coincided with an equally dramatic low point for racing. A conventional narrative wouldn’t have changed the perception of racing the way Blackmore did

The horse racing industry was on a rampage after a photo of trainer Gordon Elliott sitting astride a dead horse was leaked to social media earlier this year.

The horse racing industry was on a rampage after a photo of trainer Gordon Elliott sitting astride a dead horse was leaked to social media earlier this year.

The horse racing industry was on a rampage after a photo of trainer Gordon Elliott sitting astride a dead horse was leaked to social media earlier this year.

She comes from the same community that sees horses as working animals, but her story as a pioneer, the National’s first female winner, breaking barriers, overcoming obstacles and reversing prejudice, just as smart as she navigates and jumps fences, sets her apart.

And with every step around Aintree, Blackmore also set her sport apart.

Left in the distance that wretched image and its connotations, heralded a new era in which young girls might hang a picture of a jockey, not just a horse, on the wall as a reminder of what is possible.

There’s also a little girl and pony named Bubbles in her backstory, but this triumph doesn’t need two sales. The idea of ​​a woman winning the Grand National was once considered fantastic enough to be a novel (1933) and a movie (1944).

With every step around Aintree, Blackmore set her sport apart.  Left in the distance, that wretched image and its connotations, ushered in a new era - a reminder of what is possible

With every step around Aintree, Blackmore set her sport apart.  Left in the distance, that wretched image and its connotations, ushered in a new era - a reminder of what is possible

With every step around Aintree, Blackmore set her sport apart. Left in the distance, that wretched image and its connotations, ushered in a new era – a reminder of what is possible

The reality is that women were not even allowed to enter the race until the Sex Discrimination Act (1975) was passed. Now they ride as equals.

Blackmore steered Minella Times perfectly over the 30 fences. In doing so, she corrected the views of those who believed that the ferocious physicality of show jumping would eventually prove to be a barrier for 50 percent of the population.

It hasn’t been long since AP McCoy advocated weight allowances for female jockeys to help them compete. He meant well.

“Female jockeys are very skilled riders, but maybe a woman should be paid like a filly does in a race,” McCoy said.

‘It’s a very physically demanding sport and they won’t be that strong physically. When it comes to strength, a woman is not going to be as strong as a man. ‘

It didn’t seem like the most bizarre idea, but Blackmore destroyed it. She not only proved right, but also better than her contemporaries.

And she did it with the greatest weight of all: the soul and prestige of her sport. Indeed, they are so lucky to have her.