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Minella Times, retiring National hero, praised by Blackmore.

On Minella Times, Rachael Blackmore acknowledged her life-altering Grand National victory after the 2021 winner was injured and retired.

Through the Cheltenham cross-country chase, trainer Henry de Bromhead hoped to get a second chance at the great race.

However, a shoulder issue has surfaced, necessitating the termination of his career by connections.

He will always be remembered as the horse that made Blackmore the first woman to ride the winner of the world’s most famous race.

“I think that day did change my life. I didn’t realise the scope of the Grand National or the reach that the race has until afterwards, it really does hit different parts of the world that other races perhaps don’t,” said Blackmore, speaking at the weights lunch for this year’s race.

“Outside the racing bubble, it hits a lot of people and when you’re walking in today and you’re seeing replays of all the old races playing in the background, it’s just an incredible race and it’s a privilege to be a part of its history now.

“He’s such a special horse for me and he gave me the best day in racing that I’ve had – and there’s a lot of hot competition for that!

“It was such an incredible day and you just have so much gratitude for the horse when they give you something like he did. It was an incredible day and to be able to do it in the colours of JP McManus and for Henry just made it even more special.

“He’s always been a yard favourite I think and Henry and all the team have done such an incredible job with him to achieve that, so I’ll always be so grateful to Henry and everyone down there for what they did in getting him to win the race.”

Reflecting on the race itself she said: “He was just such a fabulous jumper. He jumped so well from fence to fence. Obviously we got a lot of luck in the race and got a beautiful passage throughout, so luck was definitely on our side and you need that in a Grand National.

“He’s just such an intelligent horse and it was such an enjoyable race to ride in, aside from going over the line which took it to a whole different stratosphere.

“Actually riding in the race was electric and jockeys always say that just getting around in the National gives you a bit of a kick and it’s true, there’s something different about it. I already had that buzz from him, it’s an incredible feeling to get round, so to actually win the race was incredible.”

De Bromhead said: “He suffered a setback yesterday so we have taken the decision to retire him.

“He absolutely loved it at Aintree. He’d had a really good season coming up to it, having been placed in a couple of really competitive handicap chases and the McManuses were keen to go for the race. It was an amazing day and one of our best.

“Winning any of those big races is incredible, but the National was an amazing day in its own right and the fact that Rachael was the first woman to win the race made it even better.

“We were bang in the middle of Covid lockdown when we won, unfortunately, but the media attention was still massive.”

Frank Berry, McManus’ racing manager, confirmed that the issue was with the shoulder.

He said: “We were looking forward to going to the cross-country at Cheltenham with him and back to the National, but he had a mishap – he hurt his shoulder.

“He might need an operation on it to make him comfortable in retirement. It’s just disappointing.

“He gave us a great day. It’s a real shame because Henry was very happy with him and we were looking forward to getting him back for the cross-country and the National again.

“The handicapper hit him very hard for winning the National and he struggled last year, but he had dropped back down a bit so it’s just unfortunate he’s had the accident. Hopefully he’ll be fine to have a good retirement.

“The season he won the National, Henry had him in great form, he put up two great performances at Leopardstown before Aintree and everything went smoothly there.

“He got a great ride from Rachael on the day and it was a day none of us will every forget.”

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