Rachael Blackmore recorded her first success at The Cheltenham Festival when guiding the Henry de Bromhead-trained A Plus Tard (5/1f) to an impressive victory in the £70,000 Listed Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap.
The Cheveley Park Stud-owned five-year-old son of Kapgarde travelled well throughout the two mile and four-furlong event before he sauntered clear under a motionless Blackmore approaching the home straight, sealing victory with an excellent jump at the last fence, before powering up the hill to score by 16 lengths.
Joseph O’Brien’s Tower Bridge (6/1) was second with the Gordon Elliott-trained Ben Dundee (33/1) a further four-and-a-half lengths back in third.
Winning rider, Rachael Blackmore, who is currently second to Paul Townend in the Irish jump jockeys’ championship, said of her first Festival winner:
“He has won incredibly well. When Duc Des Genievres won the Arkle, that was franking my form [A Plus Tard beat Duc Des Genievres by three and a quarter lengths in a beginners’ chase at Naas in December], but I never thought I would be coming up that hill like that. It’s unbelievable. The race went perfectly.”
Twenty-nine-year-old Blackmore is the 15th female jockey to win at The Cheltenham Festival, and A Plus Tard is the 24th female-ridden winner in the meeting’s history. She is the third professional female jockey to win, following Lizzie Kelly and Bridget Andrews last year.
The Co. Tipperary rider has had more rides than any other jockey in Ireland this season. She has more booked rides at The Festival – nine up to and including Thursday – than any other female jockey in history; the greatest number before this was five.
4.50pm Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase (Listed)
1 A Plus Tard (Cheveley Park Stud) Henry de Bromhead IRE 5-11-07 Rachael Blackmore 5/1f
2 Tower Bridge (J P McManus) Joseph O’Brien IRE 6-11-05 J J Slevin 6/1
3 Ben Dundee (Chris Jones) Gordon Elliott IRE 7-11-05 Keith Donoghue 33/1
4 The Russian Doyen (The Gosden Mob) Colin Tizzard 6-11-05 Harry Cobden 20/1
Distances: 16, 4½, 3¾