Can Rachael Blackmore Be The Cheltenham Festival Top Jockey?

Can Rachael Blackmore Be The Cheltenham Festival Top Jockey?
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Rachael Blackmore heads into the 2020 Cheltenham Festival with a wide range of top class chances

In 2019 Bryony Frost became the first female jockey to ride a Grade One winner over jumps at the Cheltenham Festival when Frodon gallantly saw off his rivals to take the Ryanair Chase.

2019 was a breakthrough festival for female jockeys in National Hunt Racing as the very next day Rachael Blackmore got in on the act herself when guiding Minella Indo to victory in the Grade One Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle.

It was Rachael's second winner at the 2019 festival, and along with Lizzie Kelly who was also victorious on Siruh Du Lac in the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate, female jockeys were very much to the fore of proceedings at Prestbury Park.

Only a few years ago this would have seemed impossible, but is 2020 the year that Rachael Blackmore becomes the first lady rider to win the top jockey competition at the Cheltenham Festival?

Blackmore's Breakthrough Season

Ever since the 2019 Cheltenham Festival, Blackmore's star has only been rising and she's gone from strength to strength as this season has unfolded.

She has now ridden 60 winners in Ireland this campaign, is the stable jockey to the brilliant Henry de Bromhead stable and she scored her first open Grade One victories onboard the supremely talented Honeysuckle in the Hatton Grace Hurdle and the Irish Champion Hurdle, as well as A Plus Tard over 2 miles at Leopardstown over Christmas.

Blackmore will head into the 2020 Cheltenham Festival with a plethora of top class chances and it would not be a surprise to many in racing circles if she was to have multiple winners and placed horses over the four days at Prestbury Park.

She will open the festival onboard Captain Guinness, a young improving son of Arakan who was second in the Moscow Flyer Hurdle at Punchestown on only his second start over hurdles.

One of her best chances at the festival follows this with Notebook in the Arkle, the 9/4 favourite with BetVictor, who has dominated the two mile novice chase division in Ireland all season.

The aforementioned Honeysuckle will take her chance in either the Champion Hurdle or the Mares Hurdle on day one and will be a relatively short price to take whichever contest she ends up in.

A Plus Tard is a warm order in the Ryanair, Minella Indo is second favourite in the RSA Chase, Minella Melody is a strong favourite in the Mares Novices' Hurdle and Aspire Tower will have plenty of fans in the Triumph. Everywhere you turn in the Cheltenham Festival betting Blackmore seems to have a fancied mount.

Overall, Rachael will have about 15 mounts at Presbury Park over the week, so if anything is she overpriced at a best priced 6/1 with BetVictor to take the top jockey honours?

Rachael Blackmore is BetVictor's brand ambassador and Sam Boswell, BetVictor's racing representative, is very hopeful she can take top honours.

“We are all very excited for the 2020 Cheltenham Festival, Rachael has had an exceptionally good season so far and we are proud to be associated with her as a BetVictor brand ambassador."

Sam continued: "We are joint top price at 6/1 on her to be the leading jockey at the Cheltenham Festival, her rides on the big day such as her grade one double at the Dublin Racing Festival shows she can handle the pressure on the biggest of stages. She left the Festival last year with two brilliant winners and expectations are she will go even better this year with a fantastic book of rides.”

The Challengers

Despite all these top class chances for Blackmore, it won't be one way traffic at the Cheltenham Festival, it very rarely is.

Paul Townend has taken over from Ruby Walsh at Willie Mullins' stable and will naturally have plenty of chances throughout the week. Townend is the favourite in the market and it's easy to see why.

Nico de Boinville was top jockey in 2019 and will have numerous chances once again, with the likes of Altior and Santini well fancied for their respective targets.

Davy Russell, Barry Geraghty, Robbie Power and Mark Walsh will all have plenty of opportunities to strike as well, but none of the above seem to have the sheer number of fancied runners as Rachael Blackmore seems to.

Is 2020 the year of the Blackmore?