Thursday, March 09, 2023

CARLOW resident Rachael Blackmore has been talking about last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup win and some other offbeat matters regarding the Festival.

Winning The Gold Cup Last Year

“The Gold Cup is what the whole week at Cheltenham builds up towards, it’s the biggest race of the week and a race that every jockey would love to win. Finishing second in it the year before, you think that could be the closest you ever get to a win in the Gold Cup.

Rachael Blackmore
with Cheltenham Gold Cup winner A Plus Tard
Photo: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

“But to actually achieve it last year and be lucky enough to say I have now won the race will be a feeling I will never forget.”

“I think it is what the whole year builds up towards and it really is the pinnacle of our year. It is an extremely special place to ride a winner.

“It’s the crowd, the atmosphere, the hype and the history as well.”


Pressure at Cheltenham

“There is so much expectation going into a week like this but I think it is pressure that you want.

“I want to feel it going into next week because that, in turn, means I have got some very good rides next week. It is pressure but it is, strangely, pressure that you crave and that you want. It just means that you are going to Cheltenham with some good rides.

“I don’t know, everyone has different ways of managing it but you just have to be thankful that it is there and get on with it.”


Coming up the Cheltenham Hill and the commentator

“In the Gold Cup for example, you are so focussed on what is going on in the race so you actually can’t hear the sound of the crowd as much as you think you might.

“When you cross the line, it’s like all of a sudden – when A Plus Tard did it for example – you let all of the external elements in and you are just flooded with this immense noise. It is incredible.

“It’s strange but sometimes you can hear the commentator over the crowd and that can actually help you as a rider. Like, if you land over the last, then the tone of the commentator can help you figure out if a horse is closing on you or if you’re a good bit in front.

“But the minute you cross that line, it is like someone just hits the volume switch and turns it right up.”


Go-to cheat meal

“I am so lucky that I can have a cheat meal every day if I want. I don’t have to worry about my weight so I can eat whatever I like, I feel very fortunate in that sense! Next week will definitely include a Dominos take away one of the nights.”


Strangest thing seen at the Cheltenham Festival

“There are many strange things that I have seen! Plenty of them in my younger years, maybe in Club 21, but since I have started riding It’s certainly not somewhere that I go now!”


If you were not a jockey, what other professional sport would you like to do?

“One of my good friends once told me that I am only good when I have a horse underneath me, so I’m not sure I’d be much good at anything else as a professional sportsperson to be honest!”


Would you prefer closer competition from the Brits?

“No…unless I get a job in the UK!”


If Honeysuckle were a footballer, who would she be?

“Oh I don’t know, let’s go with Messi!”


On winning the BBC World Sports Personality of the Year in 2021

“To be on the same list as Lionel Messi, with Roger Federer, Muhammad Ali, Usain Bolt, Simone Biles – it was an unbelievable list to be on. Part of me just wishes that I physically had to hand over the award to the next recipient!”

Rachael Blackmore is Betfair’s newest racing ambassador, joining champion trainer Paul Nicholls, Bryony Frost, Ryan Moore and Kevin Blake. 

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