Champion Hurdle heroine Blackmore joins racing’s female pathfinders

Rachael Blackmore laid down another new marker for women in racing with victory aboard Honeysuckle in the Unibet Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

The first female jockey to ride the winner of one of National Hunt’s crown jewels, Blackmore’s place in the history books is assured.

We look back on the women who have set the pace before – and continue to do so – in the racing world.

Gay Kelleway

Gay Kelleway made history at Royal Ascot in 1987
Gay Kelleway made history at Royal Ascot in 1987 (Simon Cooper/PA)

Now a successful trainer, Kelleway broke new ground when becoming the first female rider to win a race at Royal Ascot, courtesy of Sprowston Boy in 1987. Making that victory in the Queen Alexandra Stakes all the more special was the fact the horse was trained by her father, Paul.

Alex Greaves

Alex Greaves and Ya Malak (left) dead-heats with Coastal Bluff in the Nunthorpe
Alex Greaves and Ya Malak (left) dead-heat with Coastal Bluff in the Nunthorpe (John Giles/PA)
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A pulsating finish to the Nunthorpe Stakes at York in 1997 went down in the record books, with Greaves the first woman to partner a Group One winner on the Flat in Britain. It was an epic, too, as Ya Malak dead-heated with the Kevin Darley-ridden Coastal Bluff.

Hayley Turner

Hayley Turner celebrates on Dream Ahead after winning the Darley July Cup
Hayley Turner celebrates on Dream Ahead after winning the Darley July Cup (Steve Parsons/PA)

Turner has been a trailblazer throughout her career, never more so than in 2011 when Dream Ahead won the July Cup at Newmarket, making her the first woman to win a Group One outright.

Katie Walsh

Seabass and Katie Walsh clear the final fence during the 2012 Grand National
Seabass and Katie Walsh clear the final fence during the 2012 Grand National (Anna Gowthorpe/PA)

Walsh was the first woman to finish in the top three in the Grand National when third on Seabass in 2012. She was also the first female to ride a Grade One winner at Cheltenham when landing the Champion Bumper on Relegate in 2018.

Lizzie Kelly

Lizizie Kelly guides Tea For Two (left) to victory in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton
Lizizie Kelly guides Tea For Two (left) to victory in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Tea For Two was a particular favourite of Kelly’s, winning two Grade Ones – the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton in 2015 and the Betway Bowl at Aintree in 2017. The former meant she became the first woman to ride a Grade One winner in Britain.

Bryony Frost

Bryony Frost celebrates after Frodon won the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham in 2019
Bryony Frost celebrates after Frodon won the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham in 2019 (Paul Harding/PA)

Frost broke new ground when landing a hugely-popular success on Frodon in the Ryanair Chase at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival – making her the first woman to ride a Grade One winner over jumps at the showpiece meeting.

Hollie Doyle

Hollie Doyle continues to break records
Hollie Doyle continues to break records (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

The record-breaking Flat jockey was the first woman to ride five winners at a single meeting at Windsor in August 2020. Remarkably, she repeated that amazing feat at Kempton this month. Doyle is also the first woman to ride a winner at Ascot on Champions Day, and finished third in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.

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