Rachael Blackmore is facing an uphill struggle in her bid to retain her Grand National crown with Minella Times now at top weight, leaving jockey in need of another landmark performance to win again at Aintree
- Rachael Blackmore won the Grand National with Minella Times in 2021
- She became the first female jockey to triumph in the annual event in the process
- Minella Times is set to weigh 22 pounds more than last year at this year’s race
- If Minella Times wins, it will be the heaviest horse to triumph in 48 years
Minella Times and Rachael Blackmore were history-makers in last year’s Grand National and will have to produce another landmark performance to win again at Aintree on Saturday.
Minella Times is now top weight and will have to shoulder 11st 10lb after the unexpected scratching of his Henry De Bromhead-trained stablemate Chris’s Dream.
If Blackmore’s mount can repeat his 2021 victory it will be the biggest weight carried to Grand National success since Red Rum shouldered 12st to win in 1974. Minella Times carried 10st 3lb to victory last year.
Minella Times and Rachael Blackmore may need to produce another landmark Aintree showing
The Blackmore factor – with her huge public following – could still play a part but at this stage it looks unlikely that Minella Times will be favourite with the plunge horse being Charlie Longsdon-trained Snow Leopardess.
Sky Bet’s Michael Shinners said: ‘It will take a hell of a performance for Minella Times to win carrying top weight. His form so far this season has not been great.
‘The betting has been one-way traffic in recent days with support pouring on Snow Leopardess. We’ve had 50 per cent more bets on her than the next most popular runner.’
Now, Minella Times (above, with Blackmore) is top weight and will have to shoulder 11st 10lb
Snow Leopardess is one of the stories of the race — a grey mare who won the Becher Chase at Aintree in December. She returned to racing after more than a year out with a leg injury, during which time she had a foal.
De Bromhead should still have three runners. He is also represented by Court Maid, and Poker Party is the 40th and final horse currently assured a starting berth.
The 40 include 22 Irish-trained horses with Gordon Elliott responsible for eight of them, headed by Jack Kennedy-ridden Delta Work.
Frustratingly for Emma Lavelle and Henry Daly, their representatives — Eclair Surf and Fortescue — need more drop-outs to get into the field as they are 43rd and 44th in the list of entries.