Rachael blackmore

Hats off to Rachael Blackmore

Sporting heroes in our modern world have an extra burden to carry. Within seconds of their triumph, with the adrenaline still pumping, somebody is going to thrust a live microphone in their face and demand: ‘What does it feel like to have been the first person of Asian lineage to surmount six metres in the pole vault, to have been the first Lithuanian to have won the Sahara Rally, or the first transgender non-swimmer to have crossed the Channel in a self-propelled bathtub?’ It is the sort of ordeal that led former jockey Mick Fitzgerald, whose wise post-race analyses these days as a pundit are models of profundity, to declare

The secret of Ireland’s racing success

How Father Sean Breen would have loved this year’s Cheltenham Festival. The late parish priest at Ballymore Eustace, who owned a horse or two and had a pundit’s tipping spot on Kildare FM, used to complain that it was most inconsiderate of people to die in the Cheltenham run-up: over 40 years, it was only ever funerals that stopped him attending to conduct his usual service for his fellow Irish attendees, bless a few Irish horses and pray that the Almighty would leave enough in the bookmakers’ satchels for Irish punters to be paid out their winnings. There was nothing in the Bible, he used to argue, that said we