Rachael Blackmore enjoyed a triumphant homecoming after her Champion Hurdle and Cheltenham Gold Cup double when winning on her only ride at Thurles on Saturday.
Back at her local track – and the scene of her very first victory – the 32-year-old delighted her legion of fans as she made all on Gentlemansgame in the Carey Glass Hurdle.
Blackmore was control from the outset on the Mouse Morris-trained six-year-old. It was a double for Morris and owners Robcour after the earlier victory of French Dynamite.
Gentlemansgame may not have set up a big lead, but when asked for his effort the 11-8 favourite had plenty left in the tank and pulled away to cross the line eight and a half lengths ahead of Unexpected Depth.
Blackmore reflected on a remarkable week that saw her take the Champion Hurdle on Honeysuckle for the second year running and become the first woman to ride the winner of the Gold Cup, going one place better than last year with A Plus Tard.
“I feel tired, and that’s the first thing that comes to mind! You’re tired because you can’t sleep with excitement and it was an incredible week,” she said.
“I feel so lucky and it is hard to comprehend. I’m getting to ride a lot of very good horses and Honeysuckle and A Plus Tard this week were incredible – steering them around was an easy task.
“You’d be an alien if you didn’t feel the pressure on Honeysuckle. However, that’s the type of pressure you want, as it means you’re heading to Cheltenham with a chance. It’s great when it works out.
“I was happy with her through the race, and while she maybe didn’t travel as well during the race and I was a little wider than I wanted, to be honest you can do anything on her. She always finds a way out of trouble and when you do ask her to go, she finds an extra gear.
“Walking back into the parade ring, the sound never let up and it was just black with people everywhere.
“A Plus Tard landed after the last and picked up incredibly. I wanted to ride him differently than last year and I didn’t want to be upsides Minella Indo again.
“I was in behind a few more horses than I wanted but was where I wanted to be and it’s great when it works out.”
Meanwhile, Screaming Colours continued Ireland’s domination from Cheltenham when taking the Boulton Group Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter.
William Durkan’s raider from had just the one run since finishing fourth in this race 12 months ago, and targeting the long-distance handicap chase reaped a handsome dividend this time.
Conditional jockey Conor Orr, who claims 3lb, brought his mount into contention in the straight with four fences left and began to bid for honours with El Paso Wood and Truckers Lodge, the winner in 2020.
Screaming Colours (12-1) had every chance two out and held a definite advantage over the final obstacle. He was ridden out to take the glory from the staying-on Young Dev (10-1) with last year’s winner Time To Get Up, the 11-4 favourite, in third.
El Paso Wood, an 80-1 outsider, ran a massive race to finish fourth, while there was drama as the field set out on the last of their three circuits when Achille and his jockey Hugh Nugent parted company on the flat.