Racing: Carberry clear-headed for Bula mission

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The Independent Online

Down the years, it has not been unusual for Paul Carberry to wake up with a sore head. He has always liked to play hard.

Yet the fuzziness he felt one November morning recently was work-related and may have even been the cause of a bizarre manoeuvre he conducted on Harchibald at Fairyhouse.

It was at the Dublin track, in the closing stages of the Morgiana Hurdle, that Carberry thought he saw a gap - invisible to everyone else - up the inner of front-runner Brave Inca. It was a rash judgement, particularly in view of the identity of Brave Inca's jockey.

When you go up the inside of Tony McCoy the space has to be sufficient to accommodate the QEII.

The outcome was inevitable: a sprawling of limbs, a contortion of the running rail and failure for Harchibald.

In the aftermath, however, Carberry seemed to suggest he had ridden in the race with near concussion, having suffered a fall in a beginners' chase earlier in the afternoon. It was a way of saying that a man of his skill and experience should not have made such a schoolboy's error.

Carberry originally received a three-day suspension for that miscalculation, reduced to two on appeal on Monday, which rather neatly means he will now be available again when Harchibald is probably returned to the track in the Bula Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday.

It would be the Irish gelding's first appearance in Britain since a previous controversial Carberry ride, when the rider left his definitive effort until the shadow of the post when Harchibald was repelled by Hardy Eustace in last March's Champion Hurdle.

This time around the journey concerns surround whether a passage across the Irish Sea for Harchibald can be organised. He certainly worked pleasingly enough on Noel Meade's Co Meath gallops yesterday morning.

"He looks likely to travel if the ground stays right and if I can get the travel arrangements worked out in time," Meade said. "He worked well this morning. He did a piece on the grass and I was pleased with it."

Another notable Celtic combatant in War Of Attrition faces a maximum of eight rivals as he attempts to maintain his tremendous start to the season in Sunday's John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase.

After defeating Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Kicking King on his reappearance at Punchestown in October, Mouse Morris' fast-improving chaser gained a narrow verdict over Rathgar Beau in the Clonmel Oil Chase last month.

War Of Attrition's chief rival in the Grade One event looks to be Meade's Watson Lake, whom he beat by a length at the track in April's Swordlestown Cup and was a tidy winner at Navan last month.

Other leading players could be Michael O'Brien's former smart novice Forget The Past, the Michael Hourigan-trained Hi Cloy and the popular veteran Native Upmanship.

The Hennessy Gold Cup form gets an early evaluation on Friday at Prestbury Park when All In The Stars, who finished fifth at Newbury, reappears. Despite making several errors, Paul Keane's second-season novice ran a fine race to finish just over seven lengths behind the impressive winner, Trabolgan.

Keane has the Scottish National in April as the seven-year-old's end-of- season target, but would like to give him one more run before a break.

"I've had a long chat with his co-owner and we are making the Scottish National the long-term plan, but that is light years away in racing terms," the trainer said. "Because his owner is back in the country before Christmas, we decided to give him one more run and then hold him back for the spring. I think he is crying out for four miles."

l Today's scheduled card at Hexham has been abandoned (track waterlogged).