| 13°C Dublin

Rachael Blackmore on Grand National win – ‘I never thought that being a jockey could be a career for me’


Rachel Blackmore

Rachel Blackmore

Rachel Blackmore

Grand National winner Rachael Blackmore said she never thought she could have a career as a jockey.

The Tipperary racer appeared on tonight’s The Late Late Show and spoke about the 20/20 campaign, which tried to increase participation in female sports.

Discussing gender equity in horse racing specifically, she said: “Look we saw it with the 20/20 campaign their slogan 'can’t see it, can’t be it'. It is extremely important.

“We are very lucky in racing, there’s equal pay, equal opportunities. You know it’s something that racing should be so proud of. As a jockey I feel male, female doesn’t matter anymore. If you’re good enough and you work hard, you’ll get the opportunities.

“That’s been the case for a long time before me in racing. It is something that the racing community should be very proud of.”

This year, Ms Blackmore became the first female jockey to win the Grand National. She said the win still hasn’t sunk in.

“Every time someone says; 'well done on Aintree', it hits me every time - God, that actually, that actually happened,” she said.

Reflecting on how far she’s come, she added: “I suppose because I never thought that being a jockey could be a career for me. I always wanted to ride and ride in races but I never thought it would be a career or something that would make me money.”

Ms Blackmore grew up on a farm and rode ponies and horses in her childhood, but she wouldn’t get into racing until she was around 18 years old, after which she rode as an amateur until she was 25.

“And was kind of at a crossroads then when I was 25. I kind of eventually finished college, had to change college numerously, repeat numerous exams etc, but finally got finished at 25,” she said.

Sport Newsletter

Get the best analysis and comment on the GAA Allianz Leagues, the Rainbow Cup in rugby and Rory McIlroy's revival with our free newsletter.

This field is required

“The yard I was in at the time, Shark Hanlon, he just said he’d have more opportunities for me if I was to change my licences, from amateur to professional. He gave me that opportunity. Everyone needs someone to kind of get behind them in life and give them the chance. And I’m very grateful.”

Now 31 years old, Ms Blackmore added that like most sports people, her drive is fueled in part by a desire to win.

“You love riding horses, I love jumping horses. You think If you told me a few years ago, you’ll achieve x, y or z… I would have said, ‘I’ll be so happy with that I’ll retire happy’,” she said.

“But I don’t want to do that. I want to keep going and you just have a love for riding horses, winning and it’s all just mashed up into one.”