Grand National 2023: Is Rachael Blackmore racing at Aintree and what happened to Minella Times?
History-maker Rachael Blackmore has become one of the sport’s most exciting jockeys but won’t ride on the famous Minella Times this year.
The iconic race returns on Saturday, April 14 when bets will be placed and hearts will be in mouths as competitors approach each of the 30 jumps across the four-and-a-quarter mile course.
Rachael Blackmore has become a huge and respected name in the horse racing world thanks to her history with the Grand National and here's all you need to know about what she's up to this weekend.
Why did Rachael Blackmore make history at the Grand National in 2021?
Rachael Blackmore first competed in the Grand National back in 2018 but hit the headlines after making history in 2021.
The jockey became the first ever female jockey to ride the winner of the race when she did so two years ago.
That history-making victory came on the back of Minella Times and Blackmore recently relived that moment for Betfair.
She said: “You need luck in a race like this. It either falls your way or it doesn’t. I feel I had the luck the whole way round.
“I was really enjoying riding him in this race and it is always more enjoyable when they jump like he does. Looking back on it now, I find a lot of enjoyment watching it. That is such a thrill for a jockey to ride a horse that jumps over those fences like he does.
"I could hear the commentator saying I was six lengths or something in front and then, I had a brief moment - Minella Times was still galloping and if I am this far in front and the line is that close - I could get there, but you don’t let yourself believe it until you actually do get there.
“When you get across the line in the Gold Cup, you feel a bit of relief. Whereas here, there was no relief, I genuinely felt like I was going to burst.
“You can be on the best horse in the Grand National but you need so much in your favour to be able to win a race like this. There are 40 runners, 30 jumps, over four miles, there is so much you need to go your way to be the lucky one to get across the line first.”
What happened to Minella Times - and is the horse competing this weekend?
Blackmore rode Minella Times once again in the Grand National 2022 but was brought down in the race and unable to emulate the previous year's success.
However, the horse was retired from racing action in February 2023 and will not compete at the Grand National 2023.
Henry De Bromhead, who trained the horse, said: “He suffered a setback yesterday so we have taken the decision to retire him.
“He absolutely loved it at Aintree. He’d had a really good season coming up to it, having been placed in a couple of really competitive handicap chases, and the McManuses were keen to go for the race. It was an amazing day and one of our best.
“Winning any of those big races is incredible, but the National was an amazing day in its own right and the fact that Rachael was the first woman to win the race made it even better. Winning the race for the McManuses was wonderful, especially as they’ve been involved in the game for so long.”
Is Rachael Blackmore competing in the Grand National 2023?
Rachael Blackmore will be back to compete in the Grand National 2023 on Saturday, April 15.
The much-loved jockey has competed at every event since 2018 and will continue that trend when she lines up at the start at Aintree.
Blackmore will ride Ain’t That A Shame, owned by Robcour, who remains an outsider despite winning for the first time over fences at Gowran Park in March.
William Hill give Ain't That A Shame a 22/1 chance of securing Blackmore her second Grand National win.