Paddy Power ambassador Ruby Walsh has hailed Rachael Blackmore’s ‘resilience’ after the Queen of Prestbury Park became the first female jockey to win the Grand National.
Three weeks after landing the Top Jockey prize at the Cheltenham Festival, the County Tipperary native made yet more history riding 11/1 winner Minella Times over the iconic fences at Aintree.
“It’s outstanding to watch what she’s doing, especially after being dumped off Jason The Militant and getting back out to win the Grand National two days later. You compartmentalise that in your own mind and you can imagine how she felt and what people were saying about her on Thursday – the favourite in the Aintree Hurdle – to park all that, rock out and go and do it.
“I know from being a sportsperson what pressure and expectation feels like and I think it’s marvellous to watch her do it.”
Minella Times was initially available at 40/1 for the Grand National but Paddy Power traders were quick to cut the price after punters correctly identified the Henry de Bromhead-trained runner as Blackmore’s most likely ride in the race following her Cheltenham success.
Despite the initial flurry of bets, Paddy Power trader Frank Hickey revealed Minella Times’ victory was “not too bad a result” for our bean counters.
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Frank said: “The day before when we were pricing it we kept her onside. We were actively out to get Cloth Cap and we kept the next three or four in the market onside so it worked out nicely.
“It was a profitable race. If you’d have said a week before that Rachael Blackmore would win the Grand National on a JP McManus horse you’d think it would be a bad result so we were relatively happy with how that went.
“She’s phenomenal. She’s a brilliant jockey but she comes across as a really good egg and that counts for a lot. I’m starting to think things are written in the stars because if you go back and watch the race Any Second Now was so, so unlucky and it might have been so different.”
Any Second Now, trained by Ruby’s dad Ted, was hampered by Double Shuffle’s fall at the 12th fence but stayed on to finish third behind Minella Times.
Ruby said: “If Double Shuffle takes off using his outside leg as his lead leg he lands in front of Rachael Blackmore but he’s on the other leg so when he falls he lands in front of Mark Walsh and there’s the difference in your Grand National result.”
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