El Nina blows them all away


RACING:NINA CARBERRY had chiselled out a singular place in racing history long before yesterday’s Ladbrokes Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse but her victory on Organisedconfusion in Ireland’s richest steeplechase takes her into some crowded company.

That that company comprises of her siblings only emphasises the remarkable impact of the Carberry family on one of the most prestigious prizes in the entire racing calendar.

Paul Carberry’s 1998 Irish National victory was followed by his brother Philip’s 2006 success on Point Barrow and now their younger sister has followed in a dynastic tradition that shows no signs of stopping.

Their father, Tommy, trained Bobbyjo, and rode Brown Lad to score twice in the 70s.

Organisedconfusion is trained by their uncle, Arthur Moore, who had also previously both trained and ridden an Irish National winner, and as if the dynasty didn’t have enough emotional ties to Fairyhouse, their grandfather, Dan Moore, also produced Tied Cottage to win the National in 1979.

In the blizzard of pedigree links, it was entirely possible to forget that yesterday’s winning jockey is just the second woman to ride an Irish National winner after Ann Ferris scored in 1984 on Bentom Boy.

But the truly remarkable aspect to Nina Carberry’s riding career is that it is a long time since the most notable aspect to it was her sex. As a former champion amateur with a proven Cheltenham Festival record and a reputation for style in the saddle to compare with her brothers, Carberry has proven her ability to blend seamlessly into any male company out on the track.

Yesterday’s five-length defeat of Western Charmer, with the gambled on 6 to 1 favourite Sunnyhillboy back in third, was achieved with ruthless efficiency, pouncing on the runner-up, who in turn had taken over from his pace-forcing stable companion Deal Done at the second last, and powering clear to set up some exultant Easter Monday scenes.

Carberry’s popularity with the racing public was all too obvious on the walk back to the winner’s enclosure and the 26-year-old jockey revelled in the occasion which saw the biggest victory of her career taking place at her local course.

“Fairyhouse is just up the road from us and has always been close to my heart,” she said. “It’s just a brilliant day. The Irish National is one of those races at the top of anyone’s list to win. I’m so grateful to Arthur for giving me the opportunity and the horse jumped and stayed so well.”

Moore was clearly emotional at another victory in a race he won with Feathered Gale in 1996 and which he won as a rider on Kings Sprite 40 years previously.

Organisedconfusion was partly bred by the veteran trainer who scored a Cheltenham Festival success with What A Charm last month. “There’s still a bit of life in the old dog yet!” he grinned.

“It has been a tough winter but one win like this can make up for everything and I’m thrilled for Nina.”

The old tradition of Moore greeting big victories by planting a Trilby between the ears of his winners – begun in 1975 with L’Escargot’s Aintree National – continued yesterday but the trainer had to borrow some headgear from the crowd.

“I actually forgot my hat today and I thought it would be bad luck to go back home and get it,” he laughed. “I bred the horse with Tim Murray who was my first ever owner and he is owned by Alan Dunlop who was my second.”

Organisedconfusion was one of the least experienced runners in yesterdays’ highlight but a cut-throat pace from Deal Done, as well as track adjustments resulting in just 19 fences having to be jumped rather than the normal 24, appeared to work in his favour.

“It didn’t actually feel like a National. We were so strung out whereas normally there isn’t much light. He jumped very well and the loose horse helped me on the run in,” Carberry said.

Ladbrokes handed Orgnaisedconfusion a 25 to 1 quote for next year’s Aintree National but at six years of age, Moore reckons that may come a little too soon for the horse.

Dessie Hughes had an incident-packed National with Sarteano brought down in the early stages and Deal Done only tiring in the closing stages, leaving Western Charmer to do best of the Curragh trainer’s team.

“Everything went right for him. He just ran into a better handicapped horse on the day,” Hughes said.

The gambled on Sunnyhillboy rewarded each way punters but trainer Jonjo O’Neill said; “Richard (McLernon) said he was unlucky and was almost brought down four out.”

There were no each-way terms available, however, about the Ratoath area seeing some serious overnight celebrations on the back of the latest Carberry victory at Fairyhouse.

“I’ll just go with the flow tonight,” the winning jockey grinned. “But there might be some champagne.”

It’s not like the Carberrys haven’t had practice at celebrating Irish Nationals.