Sir AP McCoy has said the in-form Rachael Blackmore has put horse racing back “on the front pages”.
Irish rider Blackmore was crowned top jockey at Cheltenham Festival and became the first woman ever to win the Grand National in April.
The 31-year-old also won the Punchestown Champion Hurdle on Honeysuckle in a stellar 2021.
“She is a great credit to herself and racing has been very lucky to have her,” said McCoy.
“It went through a difficult time and she put it on the front pages.”
Speaking about Blackmore’s success on Sportsound Extra Time on BBC Radio Ulster, McCoy said Blackmore was a trailblazer for women in sport but her gender isn’t a factor when it comes to racing.
“We talk about gender a lot in the world today, but it’s about results – and she is getting results,” added McCoy, who rode more than 4,000 winners in his career.
“Whether I say she is great, or someone else says she is great is irrelevant. Her statistics speak volumes, they are top class and she was the best jockey riding at Cheltenham.
“Why have we never had a woman driving a Formula 1 car? It’s even more mechanical than a racehorse. She has been able to do what no other female has been able to do in any sport.”
Blackmore will make her debut at Royal Ascot on Tuesday where she will ride Cape Gentleman, trained by Emmet Mullins, in the Ascot Stakes.
Gold Cup the pinnacle
When asked to reflect on his first Gold Cup in 1997 on Mr Mulligan as 22-year-old, McCoy said that he didn’t savour the feeling of winning because “youth is wasted on the young”.
“After that win, I thought it would happen every year and I would win the Gold Cup,” he said. “It took me a long time to win it again on Synchronised [in 2012].
“I rode for JP and Noreen McManus from 2004 until I retired, and I always think I was employed to win the Gold Cup. I was employed to win everything, but the Gold Cup is the pinnacle. It’s the gold star and the best horse wins the Cheltenham Gold Cup.”
Despite saying the Gold Cup is the biggest prize in horse racing, the 47-year-old added the Grand National, which he won in 2010 on Don’t Push It, was a huge success for the publicity that it brought to the sport.
“Winning the Grand National was a huge relief,” he said. “I won Sports Personality of the Year in 2010, but only because I won the Grand National.
“When I broke Sir Gordon Richard’s record of 249 wins in a single season, which is by far my greatest achievement in racing, I was third in Sports Personality and nowhere near winning it.
“Then when I won the Grand National, it was completely different. That’s the power of the Grand National, but for me it’s about the Gold Cup.”
Listen to the full interview with Sir AP McCoy on Sportsound Extra Time on BBC Sounds