03 Jul 2022

Warm welcome home for Rachael Blackmore in Killenaule

Killenaule celebrated in style the tremendous achievements of Rachael Blackmore when the global horse racing star arrived home after her amazing exploits.
The village welcomed the Queen of Racing back home last week and she got quite the reception from locals both young and old.
The long-awaited celebration, delayed due to Covid, was an opportunity for people of all ages to come together and in glorious sunshine to meet Rachael.
Family, friends, neighbours, the people of Killenaule and her adoring fans came together to congratulate Rachael on her many fantastic success stories of 2021 and 2022 .
The joy and happiness of her success and how greatly they were appreciated during Covid was recalled.
The event was hosted by Killenaule Enhancement Group and facilitated by Cliodha Breen, principal, St Mary’s Primary School and by James Williams, principal of Scoil Ruain.
It was a most pleasant and enjoyable event as the parish and schools combined to celebrate with pride the tremendous achievements of Rachael.
It was a wonderful occasion for everyone to meet and greet Rachael and to secure a most treasured photo, selfie or indeed autograph of the local hero who continues to reach new heights in her career.
When Rachael’s racing career eventually comes to an end, it is obvious that a career in media awaits .
She is a tremendous communicator with a marvellous natural ability to relate to young and old, who enjoyed her insights, natural wit and wisdom and total command of all questions posed by all .
The visit will long remain in the hearts and memories of all who were present to hear Rachael respond to the various questions posed about her success, her ambitions, her hopes, her schedule and her injuries over the years.
In a very interesting format of questions and answers; we all enjoyed listening to her replies as we grew in admiration for her achievement and solid advice for pupils in the journey of life.
The biggest cheer of the day went up when Rachael granted free homework for the night to all the boys and girls’ a reflection of her innate ability to connect and relate to her audience which was loudly appreciated.

Teacher Francis Kearney addressed the crowd at Scoil Ruain-

On behalf of the staff and students of Scoil Ruáin, I extend a hearty and
heartfelt welcome to one of Tipperary’s true all-time heroes, and the darling
of Killenaule, the great Rachel Blackmore.
For those of you who don’t know there has been much talk in the media in
recent times of glass ceilings and how two of Ireland’s most illustrious
daughters, Rachel Blackmore and Katie Taylor, have repeatedly showered us
with broken glass, such are the glass celilings they have shattered. Breaking
glass ceilings can best be described in words made famous in the original Star
Trek series on television: “to boldly go where no man (or woman) has gone
before” when Captain Kirk on the star ship Enterprise was venturing into the
unknown to explore space, the final frontier.
These ladies have done what was, up to very recently, unimaginable in their
respective sports of horse racing and boxing. Not only have they put female
participation in these most physically and mentally demamding sports on a
par with their male counterparts, they have surpassed the achievements of
the vast majority of males in their sports and proved themselves to be true
legends in their own lifetimes.
It is, indeed, a privilege to welcome Killenaule’s very own sports superstar
home, to her own people, to us who marvel at and rejoice in her
achievements in the saddle.
Rachel Blackmore and Honeysuckle, names to rival the legendary Arkle and
Pat Taaffe, two female equine stars whose names will be forever linked and
indellibly etched in the pantheon of horse racing’s greatest and, indeed, in
the annals of Ireland’s all-time greatest sports stars.
Ireland, and particularly Tipperary, has long loved its horses and the “sport of
kings”. Only down the road from Rachel’s birthplace stands the most famous
stud farm in the world, Coolmore. Some of the greatest horse trainers ever

known are living among us today: Aidan O’Brien, unrivalled in flat racing,
trains just outside Cashel in Ballydoyle. The peerless Willie Mullins has
become the most successful jumps trainer of all time. Locally we have a host
of successful horse trainers, including Edward O’Grady of Ballynonty and
Mouse Morris of Fethard. Tipperary has produced jockeys of international
class over the decades such as Mick Kinane and Christy Roche on the flat and
Charlie Swan and Killenaule’s Tommy Ryan over the jumps.
Our very own Scoil Ruáin can boast of a great tradition in producing talented
young jockeys such as Shane Hassett, Ben Coen, Gavin Ryan and Andrew
Slattery and most recently, our promising fifth year, Jake Coen. We follow
their careers with great interest and no littlr pride.
It is unquestionably true, however, that Rachel Blackmore stands head and
shoulders above all these greats and aspiring greats in what she has done for
the sport of horse racing. She has given the sport a publicity, a profile and a
prestige that none of her predecessors has managed. She has brought an
army of young adoring fans, boys and girls to the sport.
Just a reminder of some of the glass ceilings, the firsts, in Rachel’s litany of
Rachel was the first female jockey to ride the winner of the Champion Hurdle
at the Cheltenham racing festival, the Olympics of jump racing. This she
achieved last year on the unbeaten (and possibly unbeatable) mare,
Honeysuckle. They followed up with a second victory in the same race at this
year’s festival. We hope that the treble will be achieved next Spring in the
Cotswold Hills.
Rachel was the first female jockey to be crowned leading rider at the
Cheltenham festival, riding six winners over the four days last year, a truly
incredible achievement.
Rachel was the first female jockey to ride the winner of jump racing’s most
famous race, the Aintree Grand National, a gruelling marathon of four and a
half miles over some of the stiffest and most intimidating fences in the world
of racing. To add to the sweetness of the occasion, the horse, Minella Times,
was bred by Clonmel hotelier, John Nallen.
This year Rachel became the first female to ride the winner of the “blue
riband” of jump racing, the Cheltenham Gold Cup, having been agonisingly

denied in last year’s race. A Plus Tard put up a fantastic display of jumping
and showed a scintillating turn of speed to storm up the hill to the line.
These victories have propelled her to international stardom and she has been
honoured with the RTE Sports Personality of the Year in 2021 and the BBC
Sports Person of tha Year last year as well.
All these successes have been achieved in a very short period of time as
Rachel only became a professional jockey seven years ago in 2015. Rachel has
been instrumental in advancing the career of Henry de Bromhead, the
Waterford trainer for whom Rachel rides as stable jockey.
One would be forgiven for thinking that, with the enormous effort and
dedication required to get to the very top of her sport, that Rachel’s
education may have been neglected. Far from it! This remarkable young lady
had achieved a degree in Equine Science from the Universtiy of Limerick
before she became a professional jockey. The message here is clear: it is
possible to combine excellence in both sport and education with focus, hard
work, commitment and dedication.
Another interesting fact that many people may not know is that Rachel’s
mother, Emir, taught here in Scoil Ruain for a year before going on to Carrick-
on-Suir where she still teaches.
Rachel, we really appreciate you taking the time to visit our school and for
allowing us to thank you in person for the great lift you gave to the entire
community during the challenging and gloomy days of lockdown last year.
You lifted the hearts and spirits of the people of Killenaule, Tipperary and
indeed, the whole of Ireland with your swashbuckling exploits on the
racetracks of Ireland and England.
We admire you for your grace and modesty amid all the adulation you have
had showered on you for your equestrian excellence.
We treasure you as a role model for the students in our school, girls and
boys, for showing what can be done with a positive attitude and a
determination to follow your dreams.
Finally, mar fhocal scoir, we wish you well in your future career. We have no
doubt that further success awaits you and we pray that you will stay clear of
serious injury throughout all your days in such an attritional sport.
Guímid gach rath ort, a Rachel, agus beannacht Dé ort anois agus sa todhchaí.

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