Rachael Blackmore makes Royal Ascot bow on Tuesday

Top National Hunt rider lines up at Flat showpiece.

Rachael Blackmore celebrates winning the Randox Grand National Handicap Chase on Minella Times
Rachael Blackmore celebrates winning the Randox Grand National Handicap Chase on Minella Times

Grand National winner Rachael Blackmore will be in action on day one of Royal Ascot as she teams up with Emmet Mullins’ Cape Gentleman in the Ascot Stakes.

Both horse and rider are more readily associated with the National Hunt code, with Blackmore famously becoming the first female jockey to lift the Aintree showpiece when striking aboard Minella Times in April, while Cape Gentleman is twice a winner over hurdles.

The most recent of the gelding’s triumphs came in the Grade Two Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle at Kempton in February, but prior to his introduction to jumping, the chestnut was a two-length winner when contesting the Irish Cesarewitch in 2020.

Mullins is now hoping the five-year-old can recreate that Flat form when taking his place amongst a field of 20 for the two-and-a-half-mile contest.

“We’re very excited about him, fingers crossed he’ll run a good race,” he said.

“He’s gone up a fair amount in the weights since he won the Irish Cesarewitch, but he won it well and hopefully there’s a bit more improvement in him.”

Cape Gentleman has form on both good and heavy ground, but Mullins considers the former to be his ideal conditions and is confident his charge will enjoy Ascot turf currently described as good, good to firm in places.

“He won his maiden hurdle on soft or heavy ground at Punchestown, but I think he got away with it through his class,” he explained.

“I think he is a proper good ground horse, I’ve no fears about the conditions at Ascot – he should love it.”

Blackmore will ride alongside the leading Flat jockeys when she takes to the saddle at the Royal Meeting, but she is not a stranger to success on the level and enjoyed a Listed win when teaming up with Mullins’ Oriental Eagle in the Martin Molony Stakes at Limerick last year.

“She’s top class and she’s been lucky enough for me on the Flat,” Mullins said.

“We had a Listed winner last summer, so fingers crossed we can keep it going.”

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