Rachael Blackmore wins Cheltenham Gold Cup on A Plus Tard

Triumphant – Rachael Blackmore and trainer Henry Debromhead  after winning the Boodles Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival. Pictures by Bill Heaney

By Elizabeth Hudson on BBC Sport

Rachael Blackmore created history as the first female rider to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup, storming to success on A Plus Tard.

The pair had finished second to stablemate Minella Indo last year and Blackmore wanted to put things right.

This time, she made no mistake on the 3-1 favourite, moving ahead of Minella Indo after the last and racing clear to win for trainer Henry de Bromhead.

Minella Indo (7-1) was second ahead of Protektorat (10-1), part owned by the football manager Alex Ferguson.  Galvin (10-3) came in fourth with Al Boum Photo – the winner in 2019 and 2020 – sixth.

Blackmore’s history-making run began in 2021 when she became the first female jockey to win the Champion Hurdle and Grand National, as well as taking the leading rider award at last year’s Cheltenham Festival.

“I just can’t believe it. I’m so lucky to be getting to ride all these kind of horses,” she told ITV Racing.

“You can’t do this without the horses and being attached to Henry’s yard is just absolutely phenomenal. To give me this horse is unbelievable, I don’t know what to say.

“I’ve had so many special days. I wouldn’t swap the Grand National for anything but this is the Gold Cup.”

For all her success, Blackmore knew that last year’s Gold Cup had been within her grasp before A Plus Tard faded in the closing stages.

Twelve months on, in what was a closely contested race until the run-in, Minella Indo and Robbie Power made the first significant move and grabbed the lead two from home.

But his rivals were never far away and A Plus Tard waited patiently before showing a lovely turn of pace to take the lead and, once he did, there was only going to be one winner and the pair finished 15 lengths clear.

It was 32-year-old Blackmore’s second feature race success of the week, after her win on Honeysuckle in Tuesday’s Champion Hurdle.

While last year’s victories at Prestbury Park and Aintree had been achieved behind closed doors, this time Blackmore was roared home by a Cheltenham record crowd of 73,875, including her father and siblings.

She told BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra: “I was happy with my position throughout the race – I had everyone in my sights that I wanted to keep an eye on. I tried to keep hold of him a bit more this year and it is great when it works out.

“I knew I had more under me this year than last year, but I didn’t know he was going to go away in that fashion. He is an incredible horse.”

Rachael Blackmore celebrates winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup on A Plus Tard
Rachael Blackmore finished the 2022 Cheltenham Festival with three victories

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