Johnny Ward: A crowd at Cheltenham would have taken Rachael Blackmore to their hearts

When will Irish racing sell the asset that she is to the extent of its enormous potential?

Rachael Blackmore celebrates after winning the Mares' Novices' Hurdle.
Rachael Blackmore celebrates after winning the Mares' Novices' Hurdle.
Image: Dan Abraham/INPHO

IT’S EASIER TO open up when you retire and that was the case earlier this week when I was part of a Zoom interview with former Dundalk goalkeeper Gary Rogers.

Rogers was controversially “rested” when the Lilywhites scored three goals away to Rapid Vienna in the Europa League last year but still lost. Many months and a well-earned retirement later, Rogers admitted he was annoyed with coach Filippo Giovagnoli, which was hardly a surprise.

What was, however, striking about the story was that Rogers claims he was injured in the warm-up but didn’t tell his manager, who had yet to name the team. Dundalk would give away some terribly cheap goals that evening.

Rogers’ honesty, at least, was endearing. One wonders how many second thoughts Jonathan Moore had as he got the leg up yesterday morning on Flooring Porter, a big player in the Stayers Hurdle later that day. He must have had that sickening feeling.

Moore had a Sunday to forget at Naas. He had one ride, Ujumpthelastuwin, who looked pretty well-named when he came down travelling well at the second-last. Moore, two days shy of Cheltenham, had one of those slow-motion falls, and he was relatively unflustered as their pair hit the deck, but that wasn’t what he had to worry about.

As Moore hit the Naas grass, 20-1 chance Hardwired, who was seemingly out of winning contention, could not avoid the Wexford native and unwittingly gave him a kick in the back. It was a pain that even four days later had not gone away. Moore had to make a call and he decided that, in order for the horse to perform at his best, he needed a jockey that wasn’t him.

Gavin Cromwell, who trains Flooring Porter, told The42: “It was a very brave call, a very hard thing to face up to. It was a manly decision. He just felt he wouldn’t do the horse justice. We all have to be very grateful for that.”

danny-mullins-on-flooring-porter-celebrates-after-winning Jonathan Moore (left) and Danny Mullins on Flooring Porter celebrate after winning the Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle. Source: Dan Abraham/INPHO

Flooring Porter, with Danny Mullins on board, routs his rivals in the stayers’ hurdle. He’s a horse that the public will fall in love with, given his name, that he is owned by a normal bunch of guys from County Galway, and because he has that style of running that reminds one of Limestone Lad. It is hard to believe he’s available at 10-1 for next year’s race, which seems insulting.

Yesterday’s piece here on the struggles of the British garnered an unexpectedly large number of visits, for whatever reason. It feels akin to having a jig atop a grave to go on about it but this threatened to be an even worse day for the hosts than the first two and it was, which seems incredible given Envoi Allen was beaten.

Rachael Blackmore has more winners than the British. Irish mares (Honeysuckle, Put The Kettle On, Mrs Milner, Tellmesomethinggirl and Mount Idah) have won more races than the British.

It is sad that there is no audience at Cheltenham as there is no doubt the home crowd would have taken Blackmore to their hearts. When will Irish racing sell the asset that she is to the extent of its enormous potential? We need her on billboards; we need her image in Dublin Airport, to which she will return a humble hero tomorrow evening.

She carries herself with humility and dignity even if she now looks a near-certainty, having become the first female rider to win the Champion Hurdle, to cap the week off by becoming the first female rider to be crowned top jockey at Cheltenham.

In the Ryanair she had a willing ally in Allaho but it was still a brave display of jockeyship to dictate a pace that left Min, the only horse to try to keep up, feeling a bit like Johnny Moore did this morning.

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“I am genuinely just so overwhelmed by these past few days and it’s all about the horses you’re getting on. I’m just so lucky to be riding for the people I am riding for,” Blackmore said after her double.

Jack Kennedy had a horrible start to the day when Envoi Allen hit the deck but both emerged alive and well, Kennedy producing an extraordinary performance aboard Mount Ida in the last. Having jumped out to her right and looked in danger of being tailed off, Mount Ida was laid on the betting exchanges at 999-1 for good money.


It’s been some week for the Irish, who have won 17 of the 21 races so far. We’ve the favourite in every race on Friday, when some lucky lads in Galway will likely be flooring porter, still toasting a jockey who wasn’t even riding him.

Murray Kinsella, Bernard Jackman and Gavan Casey preview Ireland’s game against England and try to figure out where this team is going under Andy Farrell, if anywhere:

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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