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Saturday, May 1, 2021

Horse racing : reluctant heroine Rachael Blackmore and bay Minella Times

A few years ago, every traveller in Beach Tambaram EMU would be intrigued by those green topped books on sale near Guindy Railway station –  a book full of  statistics, the sire-dam details that guide the punter at Madras Race Club which traces its origin to 1837 and more decades beyond.  To some Horse racing is an equestrian sport; to many it is gambling. 

Horse racing, like all sport and entertainment, relies on social approval - what is often referred to as social licence - to thrive and prosper. The casual sports fan, the once-a-year punter, and the regular whose life merged with horses and their history  will turn up on the big race days.  At Guindy there would whiff in the air, crowds – so many, trying to hit a jackpot.  Remember seeing a Muthuraman film, where he would embezzle [take out Rs.10000/-] office cash on a Saturday thinking that he would play horse race, and put back money on Monday – but losing the money and losing life !  ~ know a case of an employee, receiving PF loan for daughter marriage, withdrawing cash, fly to Bangalore, book a star hotel, punt it,  lose the total money – much to bewilderment of his family !!  ~ there have been many sob stories of punters.   This is no post on race-goer and the plight of their family ! but on a woman achiever.  

She has been described as the “reluctant heroine” of horse racing and was recently hailed as the “Queen of Cheltenham”, but Blackmore’s journey to the top of the sport has been unexpected. The daughter of a dairy farmer and a school teacher, Blackmore hails from County Tipperary in the south of Ireland. Her father, Charles, bred horses and she grew up riding horses on a farm in Mortlestown Castle. She got her first horse, Bubbles, at the age of seven. This time, however,   Minella Times was 10-1 ahead of the Grand National and was among the favourites ahead of the big race.

In the world of horse racing (more specifically in UK) the Grand National is a National Hunt horse race held annually at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool. In horse racing in the United Kingdom, France and the Republic of Ireland, National Hunt racing requires horses to jump fences and ditches. National Hunt racing in the UK is informally known as "jumps" and is divided into two major distinct branches: hurdles and steeplechases.   In a hurdles race, the horses jump over obstacles called hurdles; in a steeplechase the horses jump over a variety of obstacles that can include plain fences, water jump or an open ditch.

The Grand National has been broadcast live on free-to-air terrestrial television in the United Kingdom since 1960. From then until 2012 it was broadcast by the BBC. Channel 4 broadcast the event between 2013 and 2016: UK broadcasting rights were transferred to ITV from 2017. An estimated 500 to 600 million people watch the Grand National in over 140 countries.   

The 2021 Grand National (officially known as the Randox 2021 Grand National) was run at 5:15 pm BST on 10 April 2021. It was the 173rd annual running of the Grand National horse race, taking place at Aintree Racecourse near Liverpool, England. The event was once again sponsored by Randox Health, although the sponsorship name on the race from this year onwards was shortened to just Randox.

The race was won by Minella Times, trained by Henry de Bromhead and ridden by Rachael Blackmore, who became the first female jockey to win the Grand National De Bromhead, who won the race as a trainer for the first time, also trained the second placed finisher Balko des Flos. The winner was owned by J. P. McManus, who had previously won the race as an owner in 2010 with Don't Push It.  Another horse named - The Long Mile was euthanised after fracturing a hind leg. Jockey Bryony Frost was treated for injuries after falling from Yala Enki.

It is all about Rachael Blackmore who created history by becoming the first woman to win the Grand National with Minella Times. The 31-year-old took her sensational form in 2021 into Aintree with six wins at the Cheltenham Festival last month, which ensured she became the first woman to land the leading jockey prize. She also became the first female jockey to win the Champion Hurdle and finished second in the Gold Cup. Rachael Blackmore (born 11 July 1989 is an Irish jockey who competes in National Hunt racing.  She gained a degree in equine science at the University of Limerick, while riding out and competing as an amateur jockey.

Blackmore rode her first winner as an amateur jockey on 10 February 2011. She turned professional in March 2015 and rode her first professional winner in September 2015. Her first Cheltenham Festival winner came in 2019 and she gained her first Grade 1 race victory in Ireland in April of that year, finishing the season with 90 winners and taking the runner-up spot in the Irish jump racing Champion Jockey competition behind Paul Townend for the 2018–19 season.  In 2021, she has achieved two notable "firsts" at the Cheltenham Festival, becoming the first female jockey to partner a winner of the Champion Hurdle and, by finishing with six winners across the four days, she also became the first female jockey to win the Ruby Walsh Trophy for leading Cheltenham jockey. On 10 April she became the first female jockey to ride a Grand National winner, when she rode Minella Times to victory at Aintree. 

Minella Times (foaled 4 March 2013) is an Irish-bred Thoroughbred racehorse who competes in National Hunt racing. In 2021 he became the first horse ridden by a female jockey, Rachael Blackmore, to win the Grand National. Minella Times is a bay horse with no white markings bred in Ireland by Cathal Ennis at Quill Farm near Kilbeggan. in County Westmeath.  As a foal in November 2013 he was consigned to the Tattersalls Ireland November National Hunt Sale and was bought for €31,000 by John Nallen of Minella Racing. The horse was gelded before the start of his racing career.  He was sired by Oscar, a horse who finished second to Peintre Celebre in the Prix du Jockey Club before becoming a leading sire of National Hunt horses.  Minella Times's dam Triptoshan was an unraced mare from a family which had produced several good steeplechasers.

Interesting ! 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar


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