Bookmakers were left reeling after in-form jockey Rachel Blackmore rode 10/1 shot Minella Times to victory in the Grand National.
She became the first female rider to win the race since it was inaugurated all the way back in 1839. Yet she was a popular pick among punters after lighting up the Cheltenham Festival last month.
She rode six winners and was named top jockey at Cheltenham, so punters expected her to maintain that fine form in the National. Blackmore duly obliged, steering Minella Times to a thrilling triumph ahead of Balko Des Flos.
It capped a magnificent season for trainer Henry de Bromhead, who saddled both Minella Times and Balko Des Flos. Last month, he became the first trainer to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the Champion Hurdle and the Champion Chase at the same festival. He has formed a superb partnership with Blackmore, and they were unstoppable in the Grand National.
Blackmore displayed perfect poise and timing to guide Minella Times over the epic distance of 4 miles 514 yards, finishing six-and-a-half lengths clear of Balko Des Flos. Minella Times was initially priced at 40/1 when punters started betting on him to win, and he was eventually backed all the way into just 10/1.
Girl Power Nailed Us
Paddy Power said it lost £15 million after punters lumped on Minella Times. “Girl power could nail us to the wall with history being made and we could be staring down the barrel of a £15m pay out come 5.15pm on Saturday,” said spokesman Paul Binfield before the race.
“To put it into some kind of perspective our traders haven’t experienced a headache like this since 2013, when Katie Walsh was backed into favouritism on Seabass [she finished third], and there are echoes of that with Rachael’s Cheltenham heroics having huge popular mass market appeal, especially amongst our Irish customers who adore backing one of their own.”
Rival bookies also revealed that they were hit hard. “We may well be paying out plenty of punters today, but this will go down as a momentous year thanks to Rachael Blackmore's history-making victory and in a tough year for all racing fans, this Grand National really has been a fantastic showcase for the sport,” said a spokesman for Ladbrokes.
Betway’s PR manager added: “After five winning favourites and Rachael Blackmore creating history in the Grand National, it’s safe to say that it’s been a bad day for us.”
"I Don't Even Feel Human"
Blackmore appeared stunned when asked about becoming the first female rider to win the famous race. “I don't feel male or female right now – I don't even feel human,” she said in her post-race interview. “I cannot believe it. He was a sensational spin. It is unbelievable.
“He jumped beautifully and I tried to wait for as long as I could. I didn't feel crossing the Melling Road I was running away with horse, but when we jumped the last and I asked for a bit, he was there.
“This is a massive deal for me personally, not the fact I’m a female. The thing that hit me when I crossed the line was that I’d won the National, not that I’m the first female to win the National. I’m just delighted.”