Tommy Carberry: 'A genius who got the best out of everything'

Racing world remembers Carberry as ‘marvellous horseman and a great jockey’

Tommy Carberry, one of the most decorated jockeys in Irish racing history, and who both rode and trained winners of the Aintree Grand National, died on Wednesday. He was 75.

Renowned as a hugely talented and versatile horseman during a long and varied career, Carberry’s influence on racing was further enhanced through the exploits of his family which has become one of the sport’s dynasties.

His son Paul was twice champion jockey in Ireland and famously rode the horse his father trained, Bobbyjo, to win the Aintree Grand National in 1999.

That bridged a 24-year gap since the previous Irish-trained winner of the world’s most famous steeplechase, L’Escargot, that Carberry himself rode in a memorable Aintree success over Red Rum.

Carberry’s daughter, Nina, has been champion amateur jockey in Ireland and a pioneer figure for female riders, while another son, Philip, won the 2007 Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham. He also achieved major success as a rider in France.

However, it is the breadth of Tommy Carberry’s exploits as a jockey which earned him an undisputed place among the elite riders in this country.

Back-to-back wins

Champion jockey four times between 1973-76, he won the Cheltenham Gold Cup on three occasions. L’Escargot won it back to back in 1970-71 while Ten Up scored in steeplechasing’s “Blue-Riband” in 1975 when carrying the Arkle colours of Anne, Duchess Of Westminster.

Carberry was also first past the post in the 1980 Gold Cup but Tied Cottage was subsequently disqualified after testing positive for a banned substance.

His list of big race winners included back-to-back Irish Grand National victories on Brown Lad (1975-76).

The Fairyhouse contest close to his home near Ratoath in Co Meath was special to Carberry who saddled Bobbyjo to win in 1998, a year prior to his Aintree victory.

His son Paul also rode on that occasion while Nina won the Irish National on Organisedconfusion in 2011 for her uncle, Arthur Moore. Philip also won the Irish National in 2006 on Point Barrow.

Carberry snr’s list of steeplechase victories took in the 1973 Queen Mother Champion Chase too, on Inkslinger, trained by his father in law, Dan Moore, who handled L’Escargot.

Carberry’s talents as a jockey also extended to top flight success on the flat when he won on the Vincent O’Brien-trained Fordham in what was to become the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown in 1979.

It was after a bad fall in a flat race at Listowel in 1982 that he retired from race-riding and began a training career ultimately highlighted by Bobbyjo’s National success.

“He got the best out of everything he produced,” said Paul who confirmed his father had passed away just before lunchtime on Wednesday. “He’d been ill for a while and fought if for a long time.”

Enduring figure

Tributes were paid to one of Irish racing’s most enduring figures for over half a century who passed away just two days after the death of another legendary former champion jockey, Martin Molony.

The former champion trainer Noel Meade described Carberry as “a genius in the saddle” and added: “Tommy could ride a horse to win from the front one day and hold him and win the next day. He was a fabulous tactician and judge of pace. He just had that natural talent that is so hard to come by – it is bred in him.”

Top rider Barry Geraghty described Carberry as a "great character to be with who leaves a massive legacy" while another former champion jockey, Frank Berry, said Carberry was a "both a marvellous horseman and a great jockey."

Horse Racing Ireland’s chief executive Brian Kavanagh said: “He was a supreme stylist in his days in the saddle. Tommy was champion apprentice and in 1979 rode Fordham to success in the race which would evolve into the Irish Champion Stakes.

“He will be forever remembered for riding top jumpers like L’Escargot and Tied Cottage for his father in law Dan Moore and the Dreapers’ Ten Up, and landing successes in iconic races such as the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Aintree Grand National.”

Perhaps Carberry’s greatest success however was Bobbyjo’s Aintree National victory which prompted memorable scenes of celebration in Ratoath a day later.

His son Paul later recalled the finish of the race in his autobiography and said: “As the massive crowd cheered me on the run-in I stole a quick glance at the big screen and saw I was ten lengths clear coming to the line. The feeling was incredible.

“I stood up and punched the air. I had done it. We had done it. The Aintree Grand National. Just like Dad. Just for Dad.”