Bookmakers are predicting punters will pile on Rachael Blackmore-ridden Minella Times in Saturday afternoon’s Randox Grand National at Aintree as she bids to become the first female jockey to win the world’s best-known steeplechase.
Blackmore’s Henry De Bromhead-trained mount was cut to 9-1 on Friday.
While the Blackmore effect is not expected to make Minella Times threaten long-time market leader Cloth Cap for favouritism, the gelding owned by JP McManus is expected to attract an avalanche of support.
Rachael Blackmore could make history during the Randox Grand National on Saturday
Blackmore’s profile has increased far beyond the natural boundaries of horseracing after she landed six wins at last month’s Cheltenham Festival.
Her win on Honeysuckle in the Champion Hurdle was a first for a female jockey and she also became the first woman to be crowned the Festival’s leading rider.
In Minella Times, Blackmore has a partner who has shown sound form in competitive Irish handicap chases and who at eight-years-old is a steeplechaser who is still potentially improving.
Blackmore, 31, said: ‚He has had two very nice runs in handicaps at home.
He seems very well and his jumping technique is good. It’s a Grand National, anything can happen but I wouldn’t swap him.
‚Anything that gets people interested is brilliant. When I was young and had an interest in racing, I would probably have been keeping an eye on a locally-trained horse in the Grand National.
I might have been looking for a trainer or jockey I knew.
‚My first memories of racing are of watching the Grand lululemon shopping bag National in a friends‘ house. I can’t remember who won the raced but I can remember the buzz in the house that day.
‚I hope if people are backing me they do not go broke!‘
Blackmore has ridden in two Grand Nationals – falling at the 15th fence on Alpha Des Obeaux in 2018 and finishing 10th on Valseur Lido in 2019
Blackmore said: ‚I got around last year on Valseur Lido and got a kick out of that.
It would be great if we could get a little closer at the finish this year.
Three female jockeys ride in Saturday afternoon’s race. Bryony Frost has place chances on Yala Enki while Sub Lieutenant was cut to 40-1 from 100-1 by Ladbrokes on Friday after publicity surrounding Tabitha Worsley riding for her trainer mother Georgie Howell.
Should she triumph with Minella Times, she’ll be first female jockey to win the steeplechase
The Grand National has had the embarrassment of the void race in 1993 while it was staged 48 hours late after a bomb scare in 1997.
This year it will be staged in front of empty grandstands with no spectators present and only a handful of owners.
Twelve months ago, with the country only a few weeks into the first Covis-19 lockdown, the nearest we got to a Grand National was a computer generated virtual one.
It still attracted 4.8million viewers and was won by last season’s Welsh National winner Potter’s Corner.
The gelding, part owned by Welsh rugby international Jonathan Davies, is back for the real thing.
His recent form is less encouraging but he wears blinkers for the first time and it never pays to underestimate the ability of trainer Christian Williams, who trains Jack Tudor-ridden Potter’s Corner on the beach at close to Porthcawl.
Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, fresh from owning three winners on the opening day of the meeting, is represented by Give Me A Copper.
Cloth Cap trained by Jonjo O’Neill goes into the famous race at Aintree as a hot favourite
But he has admitted it will be tough to beat Cloth Cap is things go right for the Jonjo O’Neill-trained favourite.
A victory for Cloth Cap would be a record fourth for owner Trevor Hemmings, also the owner of Preston North End.
It’s 70 years since Nickel Coin became the last mare to win in 1951. Cabaret Queen, Shattered Love and last year’s runner-up Magic of Light, their best chance, are the mares trying to mark the anniversary in style.
But there is no doubt a victory for headline-making Blackmore and Minella Times would be the biggest story if it happens and this race that has a history of producing compelling sports‘ stories.
Exactly 40 years ago it was Aldaniti and cancer defying jockey Bob Champion who galloping into racing immortality.
On Saturday afternoon Blackmore gets her chance.