What a week Rachael Blackmore is having at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival. After becoming the first female rider to win the Champion Hurdle aboard heavy favourite Honeysuckle on Tuesday, the 31-year-old added the prestigious Ryanair Chase to her impressive CV with a victory in the saddle of Allaho.
Prior to the race, the punters would have been torn on what Mullins horse to back with Min and Melon both towards the forefront of the betting market alongside Allaho, but it’s the latter’s name that ultimately now leads the way in the Cheltenham results today.
It was the first time Blackmore has been in the saddle of the seven-year-old, with regular jockey Paul Townend opting to ride defending Ryanair Chase champion Min as opposed to Allaho, but that proved to be the wrong decision from last year’s Cheltenham Festival Top Jockey.
Still, you wouldn’t have been able to tell it was Blackmore’s first time in the saddle as she dominated the race from start to finish. Townend and Min tried their best to keep up with Allaho and Blackmore, but in the end they proved to be too strong, and as Min dropped off up the home straight, Allaho and the 31-year-old got stronger and stronger as they went on to record a massive victory.
Nicky Henderson-trained Fakir D’oudairies (11/2) and Tornado Flyer (25/1) came home in second and third respectively.
“It’s incredible,” Blackmore told ITV Racing afterwards. “For a jockey, when you’re getting legged up on these kinds of horses for Willie Mullins and Henry de Bromhead, there’s just no other job. It’s fantastic. He was just jumping and travelling, he’s a real galloper and that’s how I rode him. It’s brilliant for everyone and it’s an unbelievable position I’m in.”
It marks a second win in a row for the Mullins-trained horse after he won the Horse and Jockey Hotel Chase at Thurles back in January. It was also a first Cheltenham victory for the horse after he was denied by the great comeback of Champ, who is named after the great Sir A.P McCoy, in last year’s RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase.
It is a fourth victory of the meeting for Blackmore, who is extending her best record at the Cheltenham Festival with each and every win. The other winners came whilst in the saddle of the aforementioned Honeysuckle, Bob Olinger and Sir Gerhard.
Elsewhere on day three, there was despair as heavily backed odds-on favourite Envoi Allen fell in the day’s first race, the Marsh Novices’ Chase. Chantry House went on to win the Grade 1 race for jockey Nico De Boinville and trainer Nicky Henderson, whilst 14/1 shots Fusil Raffles and Asterion Forlonge stormed home in second and third respectively.
There was another upset in the Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle as 12/1 shot Mrs Milner landed trainer Paul Nolan and Bryan Cooper a victory in the Grade 3 race. Market leader The Bosses Oscar, whose name was doing the round in the Cheltenham betting tips, was five lengths behind in second.