Shark proud of Blackmore as she wins Ladies Chase
It might be a man's world but Rachael Blackmore is not intimidated in the slightest.
There were more than a few eyebrows raised when Blackmore decided to turn professional in the spring of 2015, a shock move that few women make, but she has been answering her critics over and over again and it was fitting she won the 2m5f Today FM Ladies Handicap Chase.
It was the second running of the only chase in Ireland confined to female jockeys and Blackmore won it in style on Smadynium, a recent purchase by Shark Hanlon out of the Julia Brooke stable. The eight-year-old burst clear before the home turn and kept up the relentless gallop to score by 12 lengths.
Hanlon, who was among those to back Blackmore's brave move, was full of praise for the Killenaule rider after the wide-margin win.
"It is unreal. It is very important for me to have a jockey like her in the yard," Hanlon said. "She is enjoying it now. I remember when she turned professional she had people ringing her and telling her that she was mad. I think she has proved them all wrong now."
Blackmore was her usual modest self afterwards, despite Smadynium handing her a 17th success of the season, 11 more than her total for the whole of the last campaign.
"Things are not going too bad and I have to try and keep the momentum going," she said. "It is great to win that race and it is a great cause. We went a good clip and we stretched the field out."
Bryan back with a bang
It has been an expensive six weeks for Bryan Cooper who has missed so much Gigginstown glory, including the Grade 1 JNwine.com Champion Chase on Valseur Lido, but he made a winning return from injury on Avenir D'Une Vie in the 2m maiden hurdle and is gunning for more success over the next few days.
"It is great to be back and that was a lovely horse to come back on," Cooper said. "It is great to get that monkey off my back. I can't wait for Identity Thief on Sunday now."
Henry de Bromhead was particularly impressed with the way Avenir D'Une Vie jumped, and added: "We knew on his bumper form that he was a class horse and he obviously loves jumping."
Asthuria looks all class
Asthuria was trimmed into 7-1 from 10-1 by Paddy Power for the Trull House Stud Mares' Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival after a stylish success in the 2m4f mares maiden hurdle.
Owned by George Creighton, who also owned the legendary Hurricane Fly, the Ruby Walsh-ridden Asthuria cruised to a six-length success over the well-regarded She's Otto, with the pair 27 lengths clear of the third.
Willie Mullins said: "She jumped very well and that would make me think that she would have no problem back over two miles. There is a mares novice hurdle in a few weeks time and we will have a look at that for her. She showed us plenty last season and that is why we ran her in a Grade 1 in the spring."
Thought for the day
Asthuria can still be backed at 10-1 for Trull House Stud Mares' Novices' Hurdle. That looks very big given how well she jumps and the regard she is held in.