RACHAEL BLACKMORE & A PLUS TARD
Jockey Rachael Blackmore landed her first Cheltenham Festival winner when A Plus Tard cantered home in style to win the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase on Tuesday – Day 1 of Britain and Ireland’s biggest jumps racing meeting.
The Henry de Bromhead-trained five-year-old was given a patient ride by Blackmore, taking the lead after the final bend and striding 16 lengths clear of runner-up Tower Bridge.
“I’ve thought about riding my first Festival winner a lot but I never imagined winning by that margin – I’m absolutely delighted,” said Blackmore.
“Cheltenham has its own atmosphere and pressure attached to it but Henry left it up to me. He’s put a lot of faith in me this week, giving me a number of rides, and has been good to me all season.
“Every jockey dreams of getting a winner here. I’m grateful for the opportunity to ride a horse like him. It was incredible coming up the hill and I’ve got a taste for riding winners here now.”
Blackmore, who with an impressive 84 winners is second behind Paul Townend (94) in the Irish jump jockeys’ championship, had earlier fallen from A Plus Tard’s stablemate Ornua in the Racing Post Arkle, but dusted herself off to take her remaining two rides.
De Bromhead has given Blackmore the vast majority of her rides in Ireland this season and was full of praise, saying: “She’s a brilliant jockey and we’re lucky to be associated with her.
“She’s as tough as any of them and just bounces back after every fall. I’m absolutely delighted for her and am really happy we’re the ones to provide her first Festival winner.”
A Plus Tard has never failed to finish outside the top two in four starts for De Bromhead, who added: “We always thought he was a really nice horse.” – www.racingpost.com