Grand National win could catapult Rachael Blackmore into group of elite female earners

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Jeremy Wilson
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Aintree success could catapult Rachael Blackmore into group of elite earners - but racing will remain focus - REUTERS
Aintree success could catapult Rachael Blackmore into group of elite earners - but racing will remain focus - REUTERS

Rachael Blackmore’s commercial potential will “sky-rocket” following a Grand National triumph that will elevate her into the select group of global sportswomen capable of earning more than £1 million a year, according to industry experts.

As the first female Grand National winner, Blackmore has permanently etched her name into sports history, but the prospect of further years at the top and more groundbreaking achievements has already prompted a flurry of requests.

The various “rich lists” in sport remain dominated by men, whether domestically or globally, with tennis players Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka the only two women in the top 60 of the Forbes list.

“The commercial landscape is drastically different to the men but more and more [brands] are looking to align with the women’s sport boom,” said Luca Russo, the director of football at Forte Sports Management.

Of Blackmore, he said: “I can imagine her commercial opportunities will sky-rocket from here. She has got that tag as the first. She will always have that tag and she will only go on to possibly break more barriers. It should be a no-brainer to align with her. She should be very attractive as an athlete.

“Too much can, of course, become a distraction. It’s a fine balance but it comes down to the team to satisfy the needs of the brand and athlete but keep performance at the front. If that goes up, everything else goes up.”

Russo would not comment on potential numbers but, allied to more traditional commercial partnerships, said that digital opportunities were particularly “booming” across social media platforms such as Instagram, TikTok and YouTube.

Another industry expert said that deals totalling more than £1 million were certainly now feasible for the 31-year-old. “She could do every opportunity and easily earn that,” the expert said. “It would put her into an unusual category. There are very few women getting really close to that. But does she want to do everything?”

Blackmore does have two main sponsorship deals, with BetVictor and PC Insurances, and will clearly be in an extremely strong position when these come up for renewal. She is represented by Rebecca Evans, of Line Up Sports, which is also acutely aware that her primary focus remains her racing career.

Racing insiders universally describe a modest, humble and private person who, like Jonny Wilkinson in rugby or the sailor Dame Ellen MacArthur, will be far more concerned with her sport than maximising every commercial opportunity.

With jockeys generally receiving about eight per cent of the winnings from a race, Blackmore is likely to have received about £30,000 of the £375,000 first prize from Saturday’s Grand National. She is back in the saddle tomorrow and, having also been crowned leading rider at Cheltenham, there is one more “first” she will now have in her sights.

Blackmore was leading jockey at the Cheltenham Festival and won the Champion Hurdle with Honeysuckle - PA
Blackmore was leading jockey at the Cheltenham Festival and won the Champion Hurdle with Honeysuckle - PA

Blackmore, runner-up last year, trails champion Paul Townend by 10 winners with 11 more days of racing for the Irish jump jockeys’ title before the season ends on May 1. Five of those 11 are at Punchestown, Ireland’s principal racing festival where it is hard to win, although many of her Cheltenham winners will be heading there.

The determining factor, however, is likely to be when or if Townend can return to action this season after fracturing a bone in his foot at Fairyhouse just over a week ago, an injury that meant he was unable to ride National fourth Burrows Saint.

“It’s going to be tough for her,” trainer Henry de Bromhead said on Sunday. “We’ll have Honeysuckle and Telmesomethinggirl going but it’s hard to win races there.”

De Bromhead, who is self-isolating for five days, reported that all three of his National horses – winner Minella Times, Balko Des Flos, the 100-1 runner-up, and Chris’s Dream, who was still in the hunt when unseating four out – had all returned home in good order.

“We got home safe and sound and I’ve got a big smile on my face this morning, that’s for sure,” he said. “It’s incredible – unreal. It’s hard to take it all in, to be honest. Hopefully it will sink in eventually. It’s a shame we can’t celebrate it properly, but isn’t it great it was able to go ahead?”

Frank Berry, the racing manager of winning owner JP McManus, said: “It was a fantastic day and a great performance by Rachael and Minella Times – a bit of history. You won’t see Minella Times again this season. He’ll have a good summer at Martinstown and we’ll plan next year’s campaign for him after that. Next year’s National is a long time away, but you’d love to think he’ll be back there again.”