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Rachael Blackmore’s proud parents on cloud nine after jockey's Grand National win

“Rachael doesn’t want to be looked on as just a female jockey who won the Grand National. She’s a jockey who won the Grand National.”

Charles and Eimir Blackmore pictured at their home in Killenaule Co Tipperary following the success of their daughter Rachael in the Grand National. Picture: Gerry Mooney

Conor Feehan

Covid face masks couldn’t hide the smiles and the pride in Rachael Blackmore’s home town of Killenaule in Co Tipperary yesterday, where all the talk was about her great Aintree success.

And outside the town at the family home, Rachael’s parents Charles and Eimir were still on cloud nine.

“Inside we’re jumping up and down with delight,” said Eimir with a wide smile.

Rachael’s success is a huge achievement for her, her family, her town and county, and indeed the whole of Ireland.

And while the topic of her being the first female jockey to win the race makes her victory even more historic, the Blackmores were looking upon it as more coincidental.

“Rachael considers herself a jockey,” said Eimir. “It’s like most things in life – people love to label people. You’re this, or you’re that, and we tried not to do that when they were growing up so they could reach their potential without having the burden of a label behind them.

“Rachael doesn’t want to be looked on as just a female jockey who won the Grand National.

“She’s a jockey who won the Grand National.”

“Beforehand I texted her and I said, ‘I think today is the big day so I’m going to wish all the jockeys safe home’ and she sent me a thumbs up, and I also told her to enjoy the race because she’s really lucky to get the opportunity.”

Eimir nearly didn’t watch the race, because she finds it hard, but said she was glad she watched this one.

Rachel Blackmore

“I consider myself extremely brave when I actually decided to watch the race,” she said.

Charles Blackmore recalled the closing stages of the races, and how the Grand National isn’t over until it’s over.

“After the last fence Eimir was starting to scream and shout,” Charles said.

“And I said, ‘Look, stay calm, there’s a long way to go yet.’

“And when she got beyond the elbow and got to the rail then I was starting to relax a little, but you have to cross the line.

“She had an engine under her.”

“There’s a big team involved,” Eimir said.

“She might get the plaudits on the day but there’s a huge team that make it happen, and I’d love to thank the Irish Horseracing Board and doctors like Jennifer Pugh, and people like Barbara White and Jennifer Walsh, because if they didn’t get stuck in Rachael wouldn’t have had her day in the sun.

“They (the organisers) could have said because of Covid arrangements they wouldn’t have the race, and wouldn’t it be very sad if she didn’t get the chance to have her day in the sun.”

Rachael has to quarantine now for a few more days, but her family are looking forward to seeing her again, but until then life returns to normal.

Eimir, a teacher by profession, returns to school today.

Outside the Centra store in Killenaule, people were buying the papers to read about their local hero, and everybody was sharing their best wishes for Rachael.

“Rachael works hard so she deserves it,” said Jade Kirwan.

“If anyone deserved it she did. I’m delighted for her.”

Principal of Ardfert NS Betty Stack with her fellow teachers Marie O’Connell, Mary O’Connor and Grace Crowley launching the ‘50k Your Way’ school hall fund-raiser last week. Photo by Joe Hanley.

“Th e pubs might be shut but the Irish will find a way to celebrate anyway,” she added with a smile.

Jade Kirwan and her son Jack (9) pictured in the village of Killenaule Co. Tipperary following the success of Rachael Blackmore in the Grand National. Picture; Gerry Mooney

“I’m thrilled,” said local man Seán Ryan.

“It’s fantastic for the area and for a small town to have talent as good as Rachael as a jockey.

“It’s such a pity we’re in lockdown because the town would be buzzing.

“But the whole town is very proud of her and for her to have done what she has done in Cheltenham and Aintree is fantastic.”

Up the main street, Mary O’Connor was preparing to add more front pages from the newspapers to her very public collection in her front window.

Mary O'Connor pictured in the village of Killenaule Co. Tipperary following the success of Rachael Blackmore in the Grand National. Picture; Gerry Mooney

“I’ve backed Rachael from the beginning and we’re all very proud of her, she’s a great girl. I won €120 in the local pub sweep.

“From day one I knew she’d be a success.”

“Even since Cheltenham Rachael has put us on the map, but with Aintree it has brought it to a completely new level for her and for the town,” said Declan Ryan.

“She’s very down to earth. She’s the same person she was when she was riding a pony age six and seven.

“Horse racing must be one of the only sports in the world when the men and women compete together.

“Male or female I don’t think she wants to be judged either way, but to win at Aintree just brings it to a completely new level.”

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