Rachael Blackmore and Henry de Bromhead
IT would be nice to get off the Rachael Blackmore bandwagon, but it would be unjust to lump her achievements at Cheltenham and Aintree together, largely as her historic win in the Grand National was of significance to a much wider audience, and shows the unique nature of racing where men and women compete on an equal footing.
Winning the world’s most famous race was not some concession to changing times, but the culmination of a competitive desire among women riders in general, but also in Rachael Blackmore as an individual. The Gold Cup may have more prestige, but winning the Grand National says to the world: “I’ve made it.”
Henry de Bromhead has also written his name in the history books, becoming the first trainer to saddle the winners of the Champion Hurdle, Gold Cup, and Champion Chase in the same season since; here he was adding the Grand National one-two to those impressive achievements. 2021 has been Henry’s year.
Performance of The Year: Allaho, Ryanair Chase
RACHAEL Blackmore win on Allaho in the Ryanair was one of the most striking over fences in Festival history, with the pair setting off at what seemed like a suicidal pace, only to quicken again when the field looked like closing in after the fourth last.
This was an absolute tour de force by horse and rider, and Blackmore seemed to will a career-best performance out of him, her tactics demanding that he meet every fence right. It’s thrilling to see the very best produce this kind of performance.
There was no margin for error, either in terms of pace or jumping, but Allaho seemed to feel the occasion, and never wavered for a second.
I didn’t think I’d witness a better performance in this race than the one put up by the immortal Vautour here a few years ago, but this was its equal in merit, and that is high praise.