Grand National hero Rachael Blackmore hit with ban for controversial ride

The Irish Horseracing Board (IHRB) has suspended Rachael Blackmore for five days following a controversial ride at Kilbeggan on May 12.

Fans were up in arms at the time of the offence, which saw Blackmore ride Lady Rita for home a circuit too early before going on to finish fourth. The 2021 Grand National champion appeared to have evaded any punishment after stewards seemingly glazed over the incident, but an investigation has since concluded a guilty verdict.

Blackmore, 33, insisted upon her innocence in the three-mile handicap hurdle, denying there had been any wrongdoing. Suspicions arose when the two-time Champion Hurdle-winner strode out from the rest of the field and opened a sizeable gap before easing off after passing the post for the penultimate time.

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However, Blackmore defended her display and said it was part of her tactics to open up a five-length lead on Lady Rita, who was shorted down to 8/1 odds for the race after opening at 25/1, It was only after the seven-year-old "got lairy in front" that Blackmore said she decided to rein her in.

Rule 212A(iv) of the IHRB regulations state: "Any rider who fails to obtain their best possible placing as a result of negligent misjudgement (including a misjudgement of the winning post or the number of circuits, easing their mount without good reason or stopping riding) shall be guilty of an offence under this sub-rule."

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Blackmore – the first female jockey to win the Grand National and the Cheltenham Gold Cup – was also forced to forfeit her riding fee.

The Tipperary native has been one of the most consistent performers in National Hunt in recent years. Blackmore has ridden 14 winners at the Cheltenham Festival and was also the first female rider to finish the event as top jockey.

Horse racing analyst Billy Nash referred to the stewards' handling of the incident as an "absolute shambles." He went on to say it also "raises a big issue about the standard of stewarding" in the sport.

Earlier in May, Joe Anderson was banned for 10 days after mistaking the half-furlong marker for the finish post while riding Trolley Boy into the home straight at Worcester.


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