Rachael Blackmore and A Plus Tard make history with Gold Cup win
Rachael Blackmore etched herself further into racing folklore as she added the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup to last year’s Grand National in guiding A Plus Tard to a runaway success in chasing’s blue riband.
Not everything had gone right for A Plus Tard in last year’s Gold Cup when finishing runner-up to Henry de Bromhead-trained stablemate Minella Indo and the queen of jump jockeys felt she had unfinished business, having picked the wrong horse.
So it proved, as the 3-1 favourite left last year’s winner in his wake following a ride timed to perfection.
Stuck behind a wall of horses turning in, Blackmore was patient and came between Protektorat and dual winner Al Boum Photo to hunt down defending champion Minella Indo, who had four lengths to spare jumping the penultimate fence.
Yet Blackmore, who became the first woman to ride a Gold Cup winner, adding to her two Champion Hurdles and the National, used A Plus Tard’s pace to perfection and she jumped to the front over the last and powered clear.
The easy early pace, set by Asterion Forlonge and Aye Right, certainly helped the eight-year-old, who was going clear at the finish, recording a 15-length success from Minella Indo, with the Dan Skelton-trained Protektorat nosing out Galvin for third, some two and a half lengths behind the runner-up.
Blackmore told ITV Racing: “I just can’t believe it. I’m so lucky to be getting to ride all these kind of horses.
“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. I wish I had something better to say right now. I just can’t.
“You have all these plans about how things are going to work out. Racing doesn’t let that happen all the time and for some reason it’s happened to me today. I just can’t explain how lucky I feel.”
De Bromhead said: “The class of him there – he was so impressive and Indo ran an absolute blinder as well, he really did. He was brilliant as well. It’s incredible stuff.
“Rachael was brilliant on him. Rachael was so brave, the way she went about it, it was brilliant.
“She was really brave. I’ve kind of got to that stage that if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen. They both got a lovely passage. Robbie (Power) was brilliant on Indo and Rachael amazing on A Plus Tard.
“It definitely does (feel different this year), just the crowds looking here at the stand – it’s just incredible. This is what it’s all about.
“It was amazing to win it last year, but it’s triple amazing this year with all the people here.”
Richard Thompson, of owners Cheveley Park Stud, said: “We’ve been talking about this moment, and it’s happened. It’s absolutely fantastic to win the Gold Cup. Incredible.
“My father (the late David Thompson) would have loved it, he watched the Gold Cup for many years and to actually win it is incredible. I can’t even speak.
“I did feel she was a bit far back, but I knew she had a gameplan – she has totally delivered.
“What a day for racing.”