An Historic Weekend. HRH Prince Philip Passes and The National Won by Female Jockey
The world, as I write this, is in mourning for His Royal Highness Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh. We at Horseview. UK, lament his passing and offer our condolences to his wife, The Queen in particular, with whom he was married for a massive seventy three years. We also offer our condolences to his family. The world of sport horses and racing remember his exploits on the polo field and of course his love of driving when he competed throughout the world, usually with four in hand, He was seen on many occasions each year, accompanying The Queen at Royal Ascot and the Epsom Derby race meetings. He ‘tolerated racing’ more than being a keen follower as he was far more sport horse orientated when he could actually compete.
Meanwhile, this weekend saw the annual cavalry charge of the Grand National at Aintree with the usual forty runners taking on the 30 fence challenge, and hopefully, for the last time the race being run behind closed doors.
Over the past few hours, millions of words have been both written and spoken about the passing of Prince Philip only a few weeks from celebrating his one hundredth birthday, a mile stone it is said he was keen to achieve, but sadly this was not to be. We reflect on His Royal Highness as a constant support for The Queen and the whole of the British Royal family. He had a brilliant brain and was fearsomely intelligent. He did not suffer fools gladly; indeed, he didn’t really suffer fools at all. He was not the most diplomatic of men, but he did have a softer side rarely seen in public. One could go on and on about his historical achievements which will never be forgotten, and no doubt will adorn the pages of the history books for time in memorial. But many others have already done so with great eloquence, so there is little value in us regaling all His history again here.
However, I saw The Duke on several occasions, although like many, never actually spoke to him. The first time I was a very young boy when The Duke visited the prep school, Cheam School in Hampshire, as both a parent and old boy of the institution where both He and Prince Charles were educated before going to Gordonstoun. I and my own family also attended Cheam, but obviously not at the same time.
My father, himself a naval officer, coincidentally, stationed for some of his service in Malta met Prince Philip on several occasions. The one I remember was at a parade of naval cadets in Windsor, where my father was in charge and the guest of honour was The Duke. My father always wore his cap at a slightly jaunty angle and never straight. When The Duke arrived at the parade and my father welcomed him to the parade ground as the senior officer, The Duke commented on this ‘cap problem’ to which my father said he had always worn his cap in this way, why, he didn’t know, to which Prince Philip remarked “well if you have always worn your cap incorrectly, there is not much point in your changing the habit now!” The cap maintained its jaunty angle for the rest of the parade. May His Royal Highness, now sail on for eternity, with of course his cap on straight!
The Grand National Makes History
The Grand National is considered one of the world’s most iconic races. A 4 ½ mile chase over 30 huge fences and isn’t even a grade or group race, but only a handicap. Always a Calvary charge in any event, with usually several fallers at the first fence, a fence which is the size of a small car! This year however, only one fell at the first and of the 25 runners which failed to finish, (there were 15 of the 40 runners to record a finish) five were recorded as fallers and all the other non-finishers were pulled up. It is fair to say that there were far more pulled up than actually fell which shows true testament to jockeys and their care for their steeds. Half way round, 32 of the runners were still in operation. Cloth Cap was the hot favourite for this race, one of the seven runners representing J.P McMannus. Both Any Second Now and Burrows Saint were trained just for this race and were both quite fancied to win. For the middle third of the race Jett was taken by amateur jockey Sam Wayley Cohen to the lead and was ahead of the field by some ten lengths at one stage. However, Jett ran out of steam and weakened towards the end which allowed Minella Times, trained by Henry de Bromhead and ridden by jockey of the moment Rachael Blackmore was able to come through and take a commanding lead in the run in with a second, also trained by Henry de Bromhead, Balko Des Flos coming up behind, finishing second; and that was how the race ended up – history made with the winner ridden by a female for the forst time in the race’s 143 year history. The two horses trained specifically for the race came third and fourth. Any Second Now was third and Burrows Saint fourth.
Rachael Blackmore was speechless after her historic win as the first female jockey to win the race. She said it was ‘a dream come true’. Henry de Bromhead was unsurprisingly full of praise for his jockey and “he felt really very lucky to have the use of such a fantastic jockey.” Rachael was asked what she has left to conquer as she has won the Cheltenham Gold Cup, The Queen Mother Chase at Cheltenham and also the Ryan Chase and now the Grand National – a truly phenomenal achievement. The other extraordinary thing for the jumps season this year is that all these top National Hunt races were trained by the Irish trainer Henry de Bromhead. Congratulations to them both. When asked about being the first ever female jockey to win the race, Rachael said “I am a jockey ad whether male or female is irrelevant. I am not sure if I am even human at the moment
This has been an extraordinary weekend with the death of history making Duke of Edinburgh and so many 41 gun salutes throughout the world in recognition of the good he did for the world and then history made again in the sporting field with the Grand National being won for the first time by a female jockey as racing shows the world how both sex genders can compete one with another on an even playing field and how the males do not necessarily have it all their own way. An extraordinarily historic weekend by any standards?