Blackmore sparkles again with double at Cheltenham

Pirate IRWIN
·3-min read

Rachael Blackmore confirmed her status as the star of this year's Cheltenham Festival on Thursday, riding a double as the Irish once again dominated proceedings.

The 31-year-old took her tally of victories for the week to five -- one more than the total of English winners after three days of the four-day showpiece.

Blackmore produced two stunning rides -- on Allaho in the Ryanair Chase and Telmesomethinggirl in the Mares Novices' Hurdle.

She led from pillar to post in the Ryanair Chase and played a waiting game, picking off one rival after another, to win her second race on Thursday.

"This is overwhelming to be honest," she said. "I didn't think I'd enjoy this week so much. It is unbelievable."

Blackmore's day ended with her on the turf as her mount, Plan of Attack, fell in the final race.

Her wins were the highlight of another extraordinary day for the Irish raiders, who won six of the seven races -- matching their achievement on Wednesday.

Among their haul was the Stayers' Hurdle, with Flooring Porter proving a lucky late ride for Danny Mullins.

Mullins, nephew of trainer Willie, picked up the ride when the horse's regular jockey, Jonathan Moore, decided he was still feeling the effects of a fall last Sunday.

"I am delighted for the horse and Danny gave him a brilliant ride," said Moore, who was at the finish to congratulate horse and rider.

"I rode him this morning and I was too sore, I would not have been able to do the horse justice."

Mullins, who was riding his first festival winner after five runners-up spots, said: "He is a proper good horse but it is the man down there (Moore) who deserves the praise -- he gave me all the information I needed."

Defending champion Lisnagar Oscar came to grief down the back straight in a heavy fall and 2019 winner Paisley Park plugged on gamely to finish third.

- 'Lonely years' -

In the Ryanair Chase, Blackmore set a blazing pace alongside Allaho's stablemate Min, who won the race last year.

However, even Min could not stay the pace and dropped away three fences from home.

Allaho, giving Willie Mullins his 76th winner at the festival and fourth of the week, came home 12 lengths clear.

It was a big win for owners Cheveley Park Stud, who had the misfortune of seeing fancied Envoi Allen came a cropper in the Marsh Novices' Chase.

Nico de Boinville won the race aboard Chantry House, bringing up a 70th festival win for trainer Nicky Henderson, who also saddled the runner-up Fusil Raffles.

"Never underestimate Nicky Henderson, here or anywhere for that matter," said De Boinville.

The Irish struck back in the next race as Mrs Milner ran out an impressive winner under Bryan Cooper for trainer Paul Nolan.

It was a welcome return to prominence for Cooper, whose career has stalled since he won the 2016 Cheltenham Gold Cup on Don Cossack.

"It's been a lonely couple of years walking out of this place without any winners," said Cooper.

"It is only you who can change things I had a sit down with myself last year and altered a couple of things."

Jump racing's showpiece event ends on Friday, with Al Boum Photo striving for a third consecutive win in the Gold Cup, the blue riband event of the festival.