Rachael Blackmore honoured at civic reception in Tipperary

Grand National winner is praised for her ‘historic, heroic achievements’

Rachael Blackmore pictured at Ascot Racecourse in England last week. Photograph: Harry Trump/Getty Images

Rachael Blackmore pictured at Ascot Racecourse in England last week. Photograph: Harry Trump/Getty Images

 

Grand National-winning Irish jockey Rachael Blackmore has been honoured by Tipperary County Council in a civic reception on Thursday evening.

The reception was held in recognition of Tipperary native Blackmore’s significant achievements this year in becoming the first woman to become leading jockey at the Cheltenham Festival and the first female jockey to win the Grand National.

Speaking at the event, which was held virtually, council cathaoirleach and Fianna Fáil councillor Michael Smith said it was the “highest honour” the council could bestow on an individual, following Blackmore’s “historic, heroic achievements”.

“To go on to win the Grand National is something dreams are made of and you made that dream come true,” he said.

While the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions meant people were unable to attend Blackmore’s wins, Cllr Smith said the community in Tipperary “would have had the roof lifted off Cheltenham” given the chance.

“Sport has given us that way of lifting us all up and it shows young girls and boys that you’re that role model and inspirational figure,” he said.

Blackmore always had a “natural ability” with horses and always showed “a toughness and a hardness that you need to be a jockey”, Tipperary trainer Aidan Kennedy said in a video recorded for the virtual reception.

Urge to win

Family friend Ginny Hutton remarked that Blackmore had “always been hungry and wanted to win”.

“She would get the best out of any pony. Then she got into racing. She’s just a natural with horses, they understand her,” Ms Hutton said.

The community of Killenaule, where Blackmore grew up, were “all behind her”, local butcher John O’Dwyer said.

“We’re so proud of her. It’s fantastic. This part of the country is steeped in racing but she has brought it to another level.”

The Cheltenham Festival had been an “unbelievable week” for Blackmore, the jockey said. “It was hard to take it all in really,” she said.

The support from her local community “meant a lot” to her. People had made her wins “so special” by hanging congratulations signs in their windows, erecting banners and bunting in shops and sending letters to her family.

Blackmore’s parents Charles and Eimir Blackmore said they were “happy and proud to support Rachael doing what she loves”.