Ted and Katie Walsh have heaped praise on Rachael Blackmore following her historic victory in the Randox Grand National at Aintree.
Fresh on the heels of being crowned leading rider at the Cheltenham Festival, Blackmore became the first woman to ride the winner of the world’s most greatest steeplechase aboard the Henry de Bromhead-trained Minella Times.
Ted Walsh, who trained Papillon to win the Grand National in 2000, is in awe of the achievements of both trainer and rider.
Speaking on Racing TV’s Luck on Sunday programme, he said: “It was a great race and a great result for the race.
“Henry de Bromhead capped one of the most extraordinary years of my life. To win any one of the four races he’s won – a Champion Hurdle, a Champion Chase, a Gold Cup and an English National – you could consider it a good year. To win all four, I don’t remember it ever happening before to one particular trainer.
“Then of course the icing on the cake was having Rachael on board as well. She’s a wonderful ambassador for the sport, a wonderful rider and such an unassuming young woman. It’s great for the game.
“To have her on the biggest stage there is and riding the winner is great for the sport.”
Walsh saddled the third home Any Second Now, who did well to finish as close as he did after being badly hampered by the all of Double Shuffle at the 12th fence.
“I think it was extraordinary performance,” Walsh added.
“Double Shuffle fell. If he’d fallen right he would have caught Rachael on the winner, but instead he fell in front of my fella and stopped him to a walk.
“I actually thought passing the stands Mark (Walsh) might let him jump a couple more and pull him up, but he started to pick up from there.
“He wasn’t good enough for the winner – he’d used up all his petrol to get there.”
The trainer is already eyeing a tilt at the 2022 Grand National, saying: “Twelve months is a long way away, but that would be the plan.”
Walsh’s daughter Katie had previously achieved the highest placing by a woman in the Grand National when third aboard her father’s Seabass in 2012.
While that record has now been beaten, she is thrilled for Blackmore.
She said: “When I knew he (Any Second Now) wasn’t going to get there, I found myself fixed on Rachael and absolutely roaring.
“She’s a great girl and an extremely hard worker. She’s so modest and realises how lucky, in one sense, she has been for all of this to happen.
“In another sense, I look at her and think ‘you deserve all this, because you are so good’. She’s so tactically aware and so strong mentally and physically.
“It was a fantastic result for her and a fantastic result for racing.”
Walsh added: “I often get asked the question ‘is this going to open the door?’. The door has been open for a very long time to any female jockey. You need a lot of luck and need to be able to work hard.
“You need to get the breaks – and when those breaks come, you need to be able to grab the bull by the horns and make the most of them.
“You have to be good enough and Rachael clearly has everything that you need and want.”