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FFirst, she won races that no female jockey had won before. Then she crossed out career-defining achievements for any driver, of any generation. And on Saturday, when she rides Minella Times in the Grand National at Aintree, Rachael Blackmore could get down to the once-in-a-century stuff.

Tony McCoy in 1997 was the last jockey before Blackmore to win the Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup at the same Cheltenham Festival, so it’s been 25 years since we needed to delve into the books of National Hunt history, to confirm if a jockey has also won the Grand National in the same season.

Go straight back to the early days of the sport, when the Champion Hurdle itself was in its infancy, and you’ll find the answer is one: Tommy Cullinan, in 1930, who completed the crown jewel set of jumping at Aintree on Shaun Goilin, a chance ride after his original mount, the great Easter hero, got injured.

Ninety-two years later, and in a much more competitive era, Blackmore is nine and a half minutes away from a quick hat-trick that has eluded National Hunt’s greatest runners since. And if Minella Times can resume her winning performance from 12 months ago – becoming only the fourth double winner since 1899 – a packed house of 70,000 spectators will be in Aintree to give horse and rider the welcome they deserve.

It was a strange and, in all honesty, somewhat deflating experience to witness Blackmore’s historic success in front of empty stands 12 months ago. More than any other race, the Grand National is a shared experience, for those who watch the course and the hundreds of millions of spectators around the world. Were it not for the noise and delirious excitement that takes over as the 40 runners line up for the most intense 10 minutes of action in all of sport, this could only be a pale imitation of an event that has captured the public imagination for almost 200 years. .

Blackmore, of course, was too caught up in the moment, the one every jump jockey had dreamed of since childhood, to allow near-silence to rub the veneer of his day. But it left a slight sense of incompleteness that would go down in history with a win on Saturday.

“To be honest, it’s hard to imagine what another win would look like until it actually happened,” Blackmore said this week. “My mum and sister are coming on Saturday morning and they are really looking forward to it so it will be great to have them here and there are also a lot of friends coming too.

Rachael Blackmore continues the story as she bids for repeat Grand National |  Grand National
Rachael Blackmore with the Gold Cup after winning A Plus Late last month. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

“You just can’t compare that feeling of crossing the line, it was just a phenomenal feeling and it’s a race all kids want to be in. When you grow up it’s the race that captures your imagination and it’s just very special to be able to say that you won it. I’ve definitely seen the replay of last year’s race more times than I can count.

“There’s definitely massive global reach and I really felt that after last year. The media attention after Cheltenham last year [where Blackmore was the first female rider to finish as the meeting’s top jockey] was huge, but after the Grand National it seemed to explode again. It seems to reach parts of the world that no other race reaches.

Last month’s success in the Cheltenham Gold Cup means Blackmore is now the only current jockey in the weigh room to have won Big Three races, and she finished the series in just over a year. It tells the story of his career as a whole, the years spent struggling for a breakthrough before several freshman winners arrived one after another at a dizzying pace. Blackmore could be dethroned on First Saturday and remain a global sporting phenomenon.

“When you walk into a random clothing store in Dublin and you’re in normal clothes and someone walks up to you, it’s crazy,” she said. “It’s one thing that people come to see you at races because you’re dressed like a jockey and people can place you, but the rare times you’re in a situation like that, it’s something which did not happen 12 months ago.

“I’ve had a lot of fanmails since last year, from girls and boys. A lot of times I know the teacher at school gives a writing assignment to someone you admire while I get a package of letters, so it’s obviously somewhere in the school curriculum. It’s great and it’s great that it sparks an interest in the children, and I hope it helps them.

This being the National, of course, there are other scenarios to fire punters’ imaginations, including the possibility of Snow Leopardess, a gorgeous gray head, becoming the first mare to win the race after becoming a mother.

Quick guide

Saturday advice from Greg Wood

To show

Aintree 1.45 Remastered 2.25 Good Risk At All (nb) 3.00 Edwardstone 3.35 Thyme Hill 4.15 Killer Kane 5.15 Longhouse Poet (nap) 6.20 Ernest Gray

Newcastle 12.30 Bird On The Wire 1.00 Git Maker 1.37 Sir Apollo 2.15 Lough Salt 2.50 Byzantine Empire 3.25 The King of May 4.00 Get With It 4.40 Kings Creek

Thirst 12.55 Paddy Brunty 1.30 Shallow Hal 2.05 True Mason 2.40 Symbolize 3.15 King Of Jungle 3.50 Juan De Montalban 4.30 Broadspear 5.00 Sfumato

bangor 1.55 Vintage Fizz 2.33 Ecume Atlantique 3.08 Daranova 3.43 Dawn Raider 4.22 Tigerbythetail 4.52 Spirit Of Regulus

Wolverhampton 4.57 Pons Aelius 5.30 Voltaic 6.00 Lucia Joy 6.30 The Grand Visir 7.00 Pilot Wings 7.30 Odd Socks Havana 8.00 Study The Stars 8.30 The Resdev Way

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Marietta Fox-Pitt, his 80-year-old owner and breeder, would be a captivating post-race interview, telling the story of her horse’s career-threatening injury, the decision to send him for cover by a Derby winner. during her recovery, and the lifelong rider’s insistence that having children had made no difference to her and therefore shouldn’t make a difference to Snow Leopardess either.

Snow Leopardess should be a must at the front of the pack. Picking Blackmore’s green and yellow cap, setting her apart from JP McManus’ five runners, will be more of a challenge, but millions will follow her every step of the way as she tries to carve out another piece of history for herself. For Blackmore, this year’s Grand National mission is simple. Again, with people.

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