• Honeysuckle has never let me down – I can’t see why this year would be any different – Rachael Blackmore

By Andrew Atkinson

Rachael Blackmore heads for the 2022 Cheltenham Festival on the back of becoming the first woman to win the Cheltenham Festival top jockey award after riding six Grade 1 winners last year.

“I feel like life in racing is always an unfinished chapter. I’m right in the middle of everything now, nothing is ever done,” said Blackmore.

“Our sport is a constant turning wheel – but it’s great to be part of it, it’s what makes it so special,” she said.

“You are always looking for the next race, the next challenge, the next big moment and you don’t get a lot of time to think and appreciate it.

“Racing never really finishes. In this sport you can never be sure what’s next, that’s why I don’t look too far ahead,” reasoned Blackmore.

“I really felt the pressure before last year’s Cheltenham – but then the race week started and we could finally stop talking, it just felt different, especially with no fans,” she said.

“From a jockeys’ perspective you try not to get too wrapped up in it- but it’s hard in a normal year, there’s nowhere like Cheltenham in our sport,” said Blackmore.

The 2021 Cheltenham Festival was behind closed doors, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Being behind closed doors probably made it a bit easier, it meant it was just me and the horses,” said Blackmore.

Blackmore, up on Honeysuckle, unbeaten in 14 consecutive victories, out to defend the Champion Hurdle, is one of a plethora of top rides.

“I know how lucky I am, I still pinch myself when I look at all these rides.

“It doesn’t matter how well I’m riding – if I’m not getting on the right horses and I’m always super thankful for that – they are the ones that are winning me these races,” she said.

“To be involved with Henry de Bromhead has taken my career to a new level – I’m so grateful to the support I receive from him and other trainers too,” said Blackmore who rides

Honeysuckle on March 15.

“The expectation is there but I know how hard it is to get winners in Cheltenham, I’m realistic,” she said.

“You’re going with the same mind frame as you do every year, just hoping to ride one winner.

“It doesn’t matter what race you’re in, you’re a very lucky person if you get to walk into the winner’s enclosure in Cheltenham.

“But Honeysuckle has never let me down – so I can’t see why this year would be any different,” added Blackmore.