Sir AP McCoy said the glamorous Rachel Blackmore had brought horse racing “back to the front pages”.
Irish rider Blackmore was crowned Irish Knight at the Cheltenham Festival and became the first woman ever to win the Grand National race in April.
The 31-year-old also won the Punchestown Hurdle on Honeysuckle in 2021.
“She’s a huge esteem for herself and the race has been very fortunate to have her,” McCoy said.
“She had a hard time and put it on the front pages.”
Talking about Blackmore’s success in Sportsound Extra Time on BBC Radio UlsterMcCoy said Blackmore has been a pioneer for women in the sport but her gender is not a factor when it comes to racing.
McCoy, who has ridden more than 4,000 winners in his career, added: “We talk a lot about sex in the world today, but it’s about results — and it delivers.”
“Whether I say she’s great, or someone else says she’s great, is irrelevant. Her stats speak volumes, she is top-notch and was the best jockey in Cheltenham.
“Why have we never had a woman driving a Formula 1 car? It’s more mechanical than a race horse. She has been able to do what no other woman has been able to do in any sport.”
The gold cup is on top
When asked to think about his first Gold Cup in 1997 over Mr. Mulligan when he was just 22, McCoy said he didn’t enjoy the feeling of winning because “young people are wasting on youth”.
“After that winning I thought it would happen every year and I would win the Gold Cup,” he said. “It took me a long time to win her back in Synchronized [in 2012].
“I rode with JP and Noreen McManus from 2004 until I retired, and I always thought I was employed to win the Gold Cup. I was hired to win everything, but the Gold Cup is the pinnacle. It’s the Gold Star and the best horse to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup.”
Despite saying the Gold Cup is horse racing’s biggest prize, the 47-year-old added that the National Grand Prix, which he won in 2010 on Don’t Push It, was a huge success for the publicity it brought to this Sports.
“Winning the jackpot was a huge relief,” he said. “I won Sports Personality of the Year in 2010, but only because I won the National Grand Prix.
“When I broke Sir Gordon Richard’s record of 249 wins in a single season, my greatest racing achievement, I was third in character for the sport and I wasn’t even close to winning it.
“Then when I won the Grand National, it was completely different. That’s the strength of the Grand National, but for me it’s all about the Gold Cup.”