Today I am so excited to bring to you an interview with the incredibly talented Rachael Blackmore! Let’s jump straight into it…
Me: What is your favourite race of your career, win or lose?
Rachael: My first winner at Cheltenham on A Plus Tard was very special and a big relief! And one I didn’t win would be completing the Grand National on Valseur Lido, he gave me an unbelievable spin over the fences and that was memorable in itself.
Me: If you could ride any horse that you never have, past or present, what horse would you choose?
Rachael: Istabraq was one of the first horses who really caught my attention in racing and also Enable.
Me: The last two seasons you’ve been neck and neck with Paul Townend to be the Champion Jockey in Ireland, with both of you arguably at the top of your game, how competitive does it get between you?
Rachael: I’d say it’s competitive for about a week then he goes into the Christmas festivals and rides about 8 winners! You would want to have a good few winners up on Paul going into the Punchestown Festival in May to even give yourself a squeak.
Me: Following on from that, when I spoke with AP McCoy, he sad he always loved the rivalry between himself, Richard Johnson, Ruby Walsh and Barry Geraghty, however he also said they were all the best of friends who always helped each other along, is it the same between yourself, Paul Townend, Jack Kennedy and many others that fight it out each year?
Rachael: The weighing room dynamics are very different to other sports, there is a lot of respect between each other and your fellow jockeys understand things more than most, so it’s great to have good rivals but also friends in the weighing room.
Me: As a jockey, weight is obviously a huge thing for you and as a female myself, I know how hard it can be to maintain my weight, how hard do you find it to maintain certain weights in order to ride certain horses in certain races? How strict do you have to be with yourself? And do you feel like female jockeys should be given more of an allowance or do you like the fact it’s always a level playing field with the male jockeys?
Rachael: I’m not sure there would be many happy jockeys in the weighing room if Hollie Doyle suddenly got a weight allowance. For me, if you work hard enough you will get the chances and if you’re good enough and things go right for you then anything can happen. Male or female it doesn’t matter. As for weight, it’s never been something I’ve had to worry about riding over jumps, our bottom weight is 9.12 and that is easily done for me. I live with two jockeys who do not share the same fortune, so I realise how lucky I am.
Minella Indo gave you your first Grade 1 in the UK with Honeysuckle giving you your first Grade 1 in Ireland, how special is it when you win a big race on such powerful horses?
Rachael: It’s an incredible feeling, both winning and also repaying the faith put in you by the owner and trainer. Been giving the chance to ride horses of that calibre is very special and what every jockey strives for.
Me: Henry De Bromhead, of course, has some incredible horses who you get the privilege of riding, how did your partnership with him come around?
Rachael: Eddie O’Leary suggested to him at the start of summer 2018 that I start riding some of the Gigginstown horses that Henry had, it all snowballed from that. Essentially Eddie getting my foot in the door brought my career to a whole new level.
Me: As a female jockey, do you ever feel any pressure when riding in the big races as the sport is predominantly run by males?
Rachael: I definitely feel pressure alright, but not gender related.
Me: Who do you look up to in the weighing room?
Rachael: Ruby Walsh and Davy Russell were always two I looked up to.
Me: What is one race you’d love to win?
Rachael: The Gold Cup
Me: What would be your ‘horse to watch’ for the next season or two?
Rachael: Bob Olinger.
Me: What is your favourite racecourse to ride at and why?
Rachael: I love Leopardstown, especially over fences. It’s a fair track and if you can get into a good rhythm jumping it’s a brilliant place to ride around.
Me: What is your best advice for young people who have a passion they want to follow, whether that be racing or something else?
Rachael: If you have a passion for something, you’re lucky. Some people can’t find a passion so don’t waste it. Work hard on it which will bring you enjoyment and you would never know… It could turn into you living your dream.
As always, I want to thank Rachael for her time, I know how busy she is at the moment so I appreciate her taking some time out of her day to speak all things racing with me. I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Being a female who writes about a very male dominated sport can be difficult sometimes, but females like Rachael who dominates the sport in her own right, inspires me to continue doing what I love even on the bad days. She’s proof that no matter your gender, you can absolutely smash whatever you’re doing and that is so so inspiring to females everywhere.
I really hope you all enjoy this one as much as I did, I will see you all Wednesday evening at 6pm for a new Horse Racing History series post!