Grand National-winning rider Rachael Blackmore says she hopes her historic victory at Aintree helps consign the tag of being a female jockey to history.
The 31-year-old has consistently deflected comments about her gender and said that despite becoming the first woman to win the race, that fact didn’t cross her mind in the moment.
Blackmore also says that if a rider is good enough then there are equal opportunities for men and women in the sport.
In recent decades there have been prominent figures in racing who thought that women should not ride in the Grand National, but Blackmore says she feels fortunate that attitudes – and opportunities – have changed.
“For me in racing it’s been extremely level,” she said. “I think the achievements of Nina Carberry and Katie Walsh, when I entered the weighing room were so big that the gender thing was never an issue.
“I’ve just carried that forward. For me personally it’s never been an experience I have had in racing in recent times, and that’s something that racing should be very proud of.”
Asked if she hopes her win last Saturday will mean references to her gender stop, she said: “Yeah. For me it wasn’t something that crossed my mind when I crossed the line, I don’t think I can say much more on it really.”
Speaking from quarantine in Ireland, the County Tipperary-born jockey said her historic triumph on Minella Times had still not “sunk in”, and that the unpredictability of racing will keep her grounded.
“It’s been such a whirlwind since it happened,” she added. “I haven’t really processed the fact that I have won the Aintree Grand National. I’ve watched the replay a few times – but it’s still just hard to comprehend it all.
“I just feel extremely lucky. It’s just such a special race and I’m so honoured to be able to put my name beside it.
“Racing doesn’t let you get carried away, you might have a winner, but you might go out in the next race and get unseated at the first.”
Asked if she accepted being the new face of racing, she said: “I’m just ok with the fact that I had a fantastic Cheltenham, I won the Grand National, so yeah I’m very much ok with that fact, whatever that means – part and parcel of it.”
Yet she acknowledged staying at the top might not be so easy.
“When you’re up there I suppose there’s only one way you can go. But we won’t get too wrapped up in it all. We’ll try and enjoy the moment.”
Blackmore is currently sitting second in the Irish jump jockeys championship, but said she is not going to start setting career goals for herself like winning the Gold Cup or becoming champion jockey.
“I never did set myself massive targets, I’m not going to start now.”