Grand National: Why shouldn't a woman win?

Maybe not this year, but who knows, says jockey Nina Carberry
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The Independent Online

With her brother Paul alongside, she is already guaranteed to make history, win or lose. They will become the first brother and sister to ride in the same Grand National.

At odds of 40-1, her chances of success on Forest Gunner are slim. But the 21-year-old from County Meath, Ireland, is already making waves in the racing world.

An amateur, at the Cheltenham Festival last year she was the first woman in 18 years to win a race at the event against professionals.

Sexism may still exist in racing circles, but Carberry is adamant being a female jockey can be more of a help than a hindrance.

"I have not experienced any sexism on the racecourse," she said. "As a woman, I think you can get more opportunities because it's something different. It helps."

Her career has also been undoubtedly helped by her surname. The 21-year-old's family is steeped in racing history. Her father, Tommy, was a successful jockey and is now a trainer. Paul, one of four brothers, rode Bobbyjo, trained by Tommy, to victory in the 1999 National.

"I have been riding since I can remember," she said. "Since I was born I have been ambitious. My goal all my life has been to ride in the National."

And what would she do once she has achieved her dream? She has already spent a year at college, studying anatomy and sports physiotherapy, and does not rule out going to university.

"I'll think about it when I finish, but one day, maybe I will. As long as I get to keep riding, I'll carry on doing it."

Carberry is part of a new, young wave of Irish female jockeys who have brought a certain style and élan to the sport. "There are a few good girls coming on all at the one time," she said. "It is making a real difference."

Despite her dedication, Carberry still finds the time to do what most 21-year-olds do. "I go out most weekends - it's not too bad. Obviously I won't if there is a race on the Saturday. But I'm a human being and enjoy going out. I'm not a complete nutter."

HIGH STAKES

£250m the amount expected to be gambled on this Saturday's Grand National at Aintree. More than half the adult population is likely to have a flutter. William Hill is offering odds of 8/11 that Nina Carberry and Forest Gunner complete the race.

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