A jump jockey and a rare-coloured horse took over the headlines in international horse racing April 10-11.
RACHAEL BLACKMORE rode Minella Times to victory in the famous Grand National, the steeplechase race that was first run in 1839 and only opened to women riders in 1975. Blackmore, who has risen to the top tier of jockeys in Europe in the last couple of years, was indeed the first woman rider to win the tough 4 1/4-mile race over 30 fences.
Blackmore is from Ireland and has a farming background. She began riding jump races in 2015 and recently cut a swath through some of the big races at Cheltenham. The Irish Examiner has a super story on how the young woman became Grand National winner here.
The Associated Press story can be read here.
SODASHI was already a cult hero in racing in Japan before she launched her 2021 campaign on the weekend in the Fillies’ Triple Crown. This is a registered white filly, which is rare in racing. And it is not often that a white horse makes an impact in major races. This gal is a horse of another colour.
The 2020 JRA Award Best Two-Year-Old Filly Sodashi claimed the first jewel of the fillies’ Triple Crown, the Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) with intimidating speed at 1:31.1, breaking the track record set by Black Moon in 2017. The undefeated daughter of Kurofune, who has extended her winning streak to five, is the first white horse in JRA history ever to claim a classics title while she becomes the first Best Two-Year-Old Filly in 11 years to win the Oka Sho.
This is the first JRA-G1 title for both trainer Naosuke Sugai and jockey Hayato Yoshida since their triumph with the filly in last year’s Hanshin Juvenile Fillies. While Sugai now boasts 13 JRA-G1 wins and Yoshida has now three, Yoshida also celebrates capturing his first classic title.
Sent off a close second favourite, Sodashi broke sharply but settled patiently on the rails behind the pace briefly set by Stutti and then Meikei Yell who soon took over the lead. After entering the straight still in third, the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies victor had no trouble pinning the two in front and easily powered clear 300 meters out, holding off the fierce challenges from Satono Reinas and Fine Rouge for a neck victory.
“It’s a great feeling. There was a lot of pressure with many doubting how strong a white filly could be, so I’m thrilled we were able to prove them wrong. I was a bit worried that the fast track would be a disadvantage, but she responded beautifully and ran well holding off the others closing in on us which I saw and made me drive her to the wire. Her potential is limitless and I look forward to her future starts,” jockey Hayato Yoshida commented after the race.