A Plus Tard and Rachael Blackmore
© Photo Healy Racing
Rachael Blackmore created yet another piece of National Hunt racing history when becoming the first woman to partner the winner of the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup aboard A Plus Tard.
The Cheveley Park Stud-owned gelding reversed last year's places with Minella Indo and provided trainer Henry de Bromhead with another 1-2 in the Festival highlight as the 3/1 favourite sprinted clear on the run-in for a blistering 15 lengths success.
Blackmore was completing the 'big three' races of jump racing having also broken new ground for women when successful in both the Champion Hurdle and Grand National last year.
Stuck behind a wall of horses turning in, Blackmore was patient and came between Protektorat and dual winner Al Boum Photo to hunt down defending champion Minella Indo, who had four lengths to spare jumping the penultimate fence.
Blackmore used A Plus Tard’s pace to perfection and she jumped to the front over the last and powered clear.
The easy early pace, set by Asterion Forlonge and Aye Right, certainly helped the eight-year-old, who was going clear at the finish, recording a 15-length success from Minella Indo, with the Dan Skelton-trained Protektorat nosing out Galvin for third, some two and a half lengths behind the runner-up.
Blackmore told ITV Racing: “I just can’t believe it. I’m so lucky to be getting to ride all these kind of horses.
“You can’t do this without the horses and being attached to Henry’s yard is just absolutely phenomenal. To give me this horse is unbelievable I don’t know what to say.
“I’ve had so many special days. I wouldn’t swap the Grand National for anything, but this is the Gold Cup. I wish I had something better to say right now. I just can’t.
“You have all these plans about how things are going to work out. Racing doesn’t let that happen all the time and for some reason it’s happened to me today. I just can’t explain how lucky I feel.”
De Bromhead said: “The class of him there — he was so impressive and Indo ran an absolute blinder as well, he really did. He was brilliant as well. It’s incredible stuff.
“Rachael was brilliant on him. Rachael was so brave, the way she went about it, it was brilliant.
“She was really brave. I’ve kind of got to that stage that if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen. They both got a lovely passage. Robbie (Power) was brilliant on Indo and Rachael amazing on A Plus Tard.
“It definitely does (feel different this year), just the crowds looking here at the stand — it’s just incredible. This is what it’s all about.
“It was amazing to win it last year, but it’s triple amazing this year with all the people here.”
Richard Thompson, of owners Cheveley Park Stud, said: “We’ve been talking about this moment, and it’s happened. It’s absolutely fantastic to win the Gold Cup. Incredible.
“My father (the late David Thompson) would have loved it, he watched the Gold Cup for many years and to actually win it is incredible. I can’t even speak.
“I did feel she was a bit far back, but I knew she had a gameplan — she has totally delivered.
“What a day for racing.”
A Plus Tard is 4/1 (from 12/1) with Paddy Power and Betfair Sportsbook for the 2023 Gold Cup, with Galopin Des Champ the 7/2 favourite.
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