CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL: Rachael Blackmore steals the show
The 2021 Cheltenham Festival was the week that the sport of horse racing needed.
Controversy surrounded the build up to the event but racing can come out of the week with its head held high.
From a female top jockey in Rachael Blackmore, Irish dominance and equine brilliance, the festival had everything except its usual atmosphere.
Racing journalist Joe Tuffin took us through the talking points from a superb week of racing.
There’s no doubting who the story of the week was as Rachael Blackmore secured the top jockey title with six winners across the four days.
Blackmore steered Honeysuckle, Bob Olinger, Sir Gerhard, Allaho, Telmesomethinggirl and Quilixios to victory at Prestbury Park.
“She had a brilliant week to be honest with you,” said Tuffin.
“She was riding out of her skin for the entire week and any horse that she was on you thought that it was going to be there and in with a chance of winning.
“On one of the days she suffered a few falls but that didn’t knock her confidence and she just kept going.”
Blackmore was aboard Honeysuckle for what many are calling the performance of the week at the festival.
Tuffin was also taken by some other horses, as well as an old favourite: “The most feel good story was definitely Tiger Roll.
“In terms of a jaw dropping, brilliant performance, Honeysuckle stole the show under Rachael Blackmore and kicked off a great week for trainer Henry De Bromhead.
“It was a brilliant ride and it’s a tough old test coming to Cheltenham to try and win the Champion Hurdle and even though Honeysuckle has won the Irish Champion Hurdle twice, this was a completely different challenge.
“As for Tiger Roll winning the cross country, this was him back to his brilliant best.
“It’s a shame he can’t go for a third straight Grand National but it would have to be some performance off top weight.”
As the festival drew to a close, the Friday saw horses do battle for the Gold Cup crown.
Minella Indo and Jack Kennedy came away victorious, with A Plus Tard and Rachael Blackmore in second and third went to history seeking Al Boum Photo and Paul Townend:
“The Gold Cup was such a good result for horse racing.
“Jack Kennedy ended up with the ride because [Rachael] Blackmore chose A Plus Tard and they managed to beat their stable companion.
“Kennedy has had such bad luck with injuries and after his fall on Envoi Allen early in the week, it was great to see him win the biggest race of them all.”
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