Paul Carberry: six of his most memorable rides

L-R: Brave Inca - Harchibald - Hardy Eustace - 2005 Champion Hurdle

Harchibald (centre) is just touched off in the 2005 Champion Hurdle

  PICTURE: Edward Whitakre  

 By Keith Melrose 3:18PM 10 AUG 2016 

WITH the news of Paul Carberry’s retirement, we look back on six memorable rides delivered by one of the most gifted jockeys of his generation.

Bobbyjo – 1999 Grand National

It was not quintessential Carberry (for that in the National, see King Johns Castle in 2008), but Bobbyjo was the first major triumph of the then 25-year-old rider’s career and probably the biggest of all. This was a ride of calmness under fire, rather than balls of brass.

Bobbyjo clouted the second Canal Turn and Carberry’s focus clearly switched to survival from Valentine’s down to the Melling Road as he guided his mount over every fence. As the others jostled for position approaching the last, a drastic switch outside on to the most direct racing line was the flourish that sealed a famous success.

Beef Or Salmon 2003 Lexus Chase

Beef Or Salmon and Paul Carberry after winning the Lexus Chase

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

Beef Or Salmon – 2004 Lexus Chase

The man-marking ride is often a last resort deployed against a clearly superior rival, the equivalent of parking the bus in football. Up against three-time Gold Cup winner Best Mate, Carberry turned defeatist pragmatism into an art form. In spite of Beef Or Salmon’s usual sticky jumping, he was able not only to stalk his main rival, but get the jump on him after three out, a double that is hard to conceive unless you see it for yourself. After witnessing that, the infamous piece of grandstanding in the final strides becomes easy to forgive.

Harchibald – 2005 Champion Hurdle

Quite simply one of the most unfairly derided rides in history. Carberry sat tight for as long as even he dared on Harchibald, a bare two-miler who had won the previous winter’s Fighting Fifth and Christmas Hurdle on the bridle and by this point had yet to earn his reputation for shirking. When his jockey finally dared to ask the question 50 yards from the line, with famous battlers Hardy Eustace and Brave Inca already rolling on either side, there was no answer – of course there wasn’t, this was Harchibald.

Bellvano - Cheltenham - 16/03/2012

Bellvano gets up at the death in the 2012 Grand Annual

  PICTURE: Mark Cranham (  

Bellvano – 2012 Grand Annual Chase

Bellvano, another tame finisher, had made a bit of a fool of no less a jockey than Barry Geraghty at Newbury two starts before Carberry was called in for the Grand Annual. The two turned out to be perfectly suited. Bellvano was still in 13th at the top of the hill and even as commentator Mark Johnson’s voice rose to introduce the finish, he was eighth. He and Carberry reached the front 50 yards from the finish, easing past stablemate Tanks For That, Geraghty’s chosen ride.

Monbeg Dude – 2012 Welsh National

Teaforthree had been favourite for the Welsh National from when the betting opened many weeks before the race. Never far away under Sir Anthony McCoy, he would remain the likeliest winner until two fences out, when the inevitability of Monbeg Dude’s successful pursuit from a dozen lengths down turning for home became clear.

Much like Bellvano, the ride on Monbeg Dude is the kind Carberry will be remembered for. To call it exemplary would imply it could be copied. Archetypal fits much better.

Apache Stronghold and Paul Carberry

Carberry used all of his skill to win the Flogas on Apache Stronghold

  PICTURE: Alain Barr (  

Apache Stronghold – 2015 Flogas Novice Chase

It is often said the first of a sports star’s attributes to abandon them is their nerve. Just seven months before he suffered the injury that would ultimately end his career, Carberry showed he still had plenty to offer.

Like Monbeg Dude and Beef Or Salmon, Apache Stronghold’s jumping was often his undoing. Carberry never panicked, ensuring his mount’s mistakes wasted no more energy than necessary, before launching his attack with a bold move through horses on the home turn. The pair met the last upsides Valseur Lido, but greater momentum carried them into a narrow lead that was held determinedly up the Leopardstown run-in.

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