It was such a thrill to watch Rachael Blackmore win the Grand National on Saturday. It was a groundbreaking moment for the sport. Rachael is an outstanding jockey who is at the top of her game and what she did on Saturday didn’t come as a surprise to those that have watched her over the last few years. I think the high-profile successes she has enjoyed, alongside the success of other top female jockeys like Hollie Doyle, Bryony Frost, Laura Pearson, Saffie Osborne to name a few, shows that there is no reason not to give female jockeys chances on quality horses in the best races. Owners and trainers will not think twice about our gender and that is half the battle.
When I rode my first Group One winner 10 years ago, many expected there to be many more opportunities in the big races for female riders but it all happened quite slowly. There was a quite a big gap in which there weren’t many female riders at the top of the sport. However, in the last two or three years, the opportunities have started to grow and we have seen with the likes of Hollie Doyle on the flat and Bryony, Lizzie and Rachael on the jumps, that if you are good enough, you will get the rides. For Rachael to prove herself in the most high-profile and toughest race of all will hopefully lead to the floodgates opening. I imagine it will inspire a whole new generation of riders too, who will see what is possible through hard work.
I think milestones will fall much more quickly now and it won’t be long before we have a female Champion Jockey or a Derby winning jockey. I hope, and think, that we are not far away from us just being considered as jockeys, not female jockeys or lady jockeys, just a jockey.