Katie Walsh: Rachael Blackmore can become champion jockey
In her debut blog on the Insider, Betway's newest ambassador reflects on the Christmas racing and discusses what it might mean for Cheltenham Festival.
We had a great family Christmas, although it comes and goes pretty quick, doesn’t it?
We were at home in our house in Kildare with mum, dad, Ruby, Gillian, Ted, Nina, Jennifer and Killian, as well as all the kids. Mum cooked and she’s a great cook, so it was a really nice day.
The yard’s Christmas runners
We won’t be taking Baie Des Iles over to Chepstow again for the Welsh Grand National. It’s nothing against the track or the people, we’d definitely take another horse if we had the right one, it just doesn’t suit her.
She’s not an early traveller and you have to start quickly there with the run to the first bend. She struggled to get into a rhythm but she’s come out of it 100 per cent and we’ll find something for her in the next couple of weeks.
We’ll definitely be going back to France with her later in the year but, in the meantime, she’ll probably get an entry in the Cross Country at Cheltenham, as well as the English and Irish Grand Nationals.
D’bru Na Boinne was unlucky at Tramore on New Year’s Day, getting beat by a nose. He ran a lovely race but just landed on all fours over the last.
It’s a shame he didn’t win as it would have been a nice way to start off the year, but I’m sure there’s another win in him at some point.
You couldn’t fault Kemboy’s performance in the Savills Chase one bit. David [Mullins] gave him a great ride. They didn’t go much of a gallop which was a surprise, and his move in front of the stands was the difference between winning and losing for me.
He was very impressive and went again up the straight. You’d have to be heading in the Gold Cup direction after that.
I don’t think anyone could believe quite how slow they went. Road To Respect didn’t really get into a rhythm and then stumbled a couple of times on the bend.
Leopardstown is a fine track but they need to look at the bend. It’s too tight and shouldn’t be riding like that. He wasn’t the first horse to slip up there and the race had gone for him by that stage. He did well to finish where he did.
Apple’s Jade was phenomenal, she’s some mare. None of them apart from Faugheen could go with her and it was a shame that he fell.
I still think Apple’s Jade would have won, but it was great to see him get back up.
It’s a difficult one to guess where she’ll go at Cheltenham. The Champion Hurdle has opened up with Samcro disappointing and Buveur D’Air getting beat at Kempton. Sharjah would have to be in the frame after his performance.
I personally think Apple’s Jade would be better over a trip. You could understand them going down the mares route, but there are a lot of good mares around. It’s not easy to win any race at Cheltenham.
I would say I think she’d be good enough to win a Stayers Hurdle and she’d have a better chance in that than the Champion.
Who would have thought all this would have happened?
Rachael Blackmore has had a phenomenal season. It’s helped that Henry [De Bromhead] has also had a great season and he’s been a big supporter of hers, as have Gigginstown.
She’s been riding out of her skin. She’s got loads of confidence and is making very few mistakes. If she stays sound she could easily ride over 100 winners, which would be an unbelievable achievement and would put her bang there.
It’s going to be a great battle between her and the likes of Paul [Townend] and Davy [Russell]. She’s only a few behind Paul and she could definitely win the title.
I remember going off to Bellewstown in the summer and seeing that she’d ridden a couple of winners, so I had a quick look at the odds. She was 100/1, she’s only around 4/1 now!
Everyone would love to see it happen, it’s incredible already. She’s never looking for the limelight, but she won’t be able to avoid it if she wins the title.
Moving on after riding
I made the decision to retire as a jockey at Punchestown in April, something had to give. I rode for a long time and absolutely loved every minute of it.
I never thought I’d ride so many top-class horses at such amazing places. It really was a dream come true, but it was the right time to bow out.
I’m now buying and selling breeze-up horses which is really fun and keeping me busy.
Dad and Ross are also very busy so I do my bit with them. Ross is the man with the licence at our place and I’m just there to help wherever I can.
I ride out a lot and we sit down and talk about the different decisions and targets. I’m just back-up support, really. It’s going well and we’re all looking forward to 2019.
Congratulations to Richard Johnson
I’d just like to pass on my congratulations to fellow Betway ambassador Richard Johnson for his much-deserved OBE.
He’s been a tremendous jockey for a number of years and is a fantastic role model for any young rider.
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