Rachael Blackmore: will Irish jockey compete at Cheltenham Festival 2023? Career highlights, and previous wins

Rachael Blackmore became first female jockey to win Gold Cup in 2022

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Rachael Blackmore made history at the 2022 Cheltenham Festival by becoming the first female jockey to win the coveted Gold Cup Trophy on day four of the event and the Irish jockey will return to Gloucestershire once more as she prepares for this year’s four day jumping-events festival.

Blackmore will be part of the first group of jockeys to use the new controversial whip rules which have been introduced in British racing ahead of this year’s Cheltenham meet. The modern whips, which have a polymer surround and are foam-padded and energy absorbing, are now only allowed to be used seven times in a jump race and six in a flat race. Jockeys face suspension for going above that limit and their horse will be disqualified if they go four or more over the threshold.

As Blackmore prepares to come to grips with the latest regulations ahead of this year’s races, here is all you need to know about the Irish female jockey...

Who is Rachael Blackmore?

Blackmore, 33, is from Killenaule, County Tipperary in Ireland and has become one of the leading National Hunt jockeys in Ireland and the UK. The jockey grew up on a dairy farm and began riding horses at a young age.

During college, she competed as an amateur jockey and turned professional after graduating. She gained a degree in equine science at the University of Limerick and won her first race as an amateur jockey in February 2011, when Stowaway Pearl won the Tipperary Ladies’ Handicap Hurdle at Thurles.

It has been reported that since April 2021, Blackmore has been in a relationship with jockey Brian Hayes. Hayes hails from Rosscarbery in Cork and the two of them lived with another jockey, Patrick Mullins in Leighlinbridge as of April 2022.

Blackmore winning the 2022 Gold Cup, becoming first female jockey to do soBlackmore winning the 2022 Gold Cup, becoming first female jockey to do so
Blackmore winning the 2022 Gold Cup, becoming first female jockey to do so

Blackmore’s career highlights

Blackmore had her first ride in the Grand National in 2018. Her mount, Alpha des Obeaux fell at the fifteenth fence, however a year later she would go on to enjoy her first Cheltenham Festival win on A Plus Tard in the Chase Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase.

Blackmore then gained her first Grade 1 victory when Minella Indo won the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle. A few months later, she finished 10th place in the 2019 Grand National on Valseur Lido. In 2021, Blackmore achieved two notable ‘firsts’ at the Cheltenham Festival. She became the first female jockey to partner a winner of the Champion Hurdle when she rode Honeysuckle to victory, and, after finishing with six winners across the four days, she became the first female jockey to win the Ruby Walsh trophy for leading Cheltenham jockey.

A few months after her achievements in Gloucestershire, Blackmore once again added to the history books by becoming the first female jockey to win the Grand National when she rode Minella Times to victory. Last year, the 33-year-old jockey secured a repeat win on Honeysuckle in the Champion Hurdle and then became the first female jockey to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup, riding that year’s favourite A Plus Tard to a 15 length victory.

When is Cheltenham festival?

The four days of racing will begin on Tuesday 14 March 2023 and will conclude on Friday 17 March. ITV will have all the coverage of the first five events of each day and Blackmore will be competing in the prestigious Gold Cup on Friday as well as the Mares’ Hurdle on Tuesday and Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle on Wednesday.