Rachael Blackmore undergoes surgery but in 'good spirits' after Killarney fall
Top rider in hospital in Tralee with fractured ankle and hip injury
Rachael Blackmore, the most successful female jockey of all time over jumps and the first woman to win the Grand National, is said to be in "good spirits" as she begins her recovery from a fractured ankle and hip injury sustained at Killarney on Friday.
The hugely popular rider, who turned 32 last Sunday, is currently setting the pace at the top of the jump jockeys' championship in Ireland and moved on to 22 winners for the season with an early double at Killarney on Friday, but she later suffered a nasty fall from 11-10 favourite Merry Poppins in the 2m4f handicap hurdle.
Blackmore was treated by medical staff on the track and was subsequently taken to Tralee Hospital where she underwent surgery on Friday night.
The IHRB's senior medical officer, Jennifer Pugh, issued an update on Saturday, saying: "Rachael sustained a fractured ankle and hip injury following her fall on Friday evening. She has had surgery overnight and is in good spirits this morning."
Having got first run on Paul Townend, edging 15 clear of the defending champion with her double on Friday, it was beginning to look like another great chance for Blackmore to win the the title she had gone so close to snatching for two of the last three years.
Blackmore scrambled home on the Henry de Bromhead-trained Leac An Scail Lady in the 2m7f mares' maiden hurdle at Killarney before doubling her tally for the day on the Philip Rothwell-trained Baltinglass Hill in the second division of the 2m1f handicap hurdle.
That brace of victories propelled her back to the top of the table and one clear of Danny Mullins, who has not ridden since a fall of his own at Limerick last Saturday.
Blackmore will now miss the Galway summer festival which starts on Monday week and is set for a spell on the sidelines as she recovers from the nasty injury.
Despite that, her quest for a first jockeys' championship is certainly not over and she will no doubt return in the autumn to get her challenge back on track.
Blackmore enjoyed her best ever campaign last season when riding 92 winners and was still in contention for the title going into the Punchestown festival. She trailed Townend by just four winners heading into the final week of the season, but could not claw back the deficit and lost out by eight.
She also went agonisingly close to her first title in the 2018-19 season when helping herself to 90 winners, but again Townend had her measure at the business end thanks to a productive Punchestown.
Up until Killarney on Friday it had been a fairytale year for Blackmore as she was leading rider at the Cheltenham Festival with six victories, including runaway Champion Hurdle winner Honeysuckle.
A few weeks later she made history on Minella Times in the Randox Grand National when she became the first female rider to win the world's most famous jumps race, leading home a 1-2 for trainer Henry de Bromhead.
Among those to wish Blackmore well on Twitter was ITV's Natalie Green, who tweeted: "Hope she is okay! The highs and lows of racing. Sending her well wishes for a speedy recovery."
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