Racing: Carberry confidence revives Beef Or Salmon

Just as the careless and the carefree are divided by a bare syllable, so an abyss divides two riders who behaved in identical fashion on consecutive afternoons here. Yesterday Paul Carberry stopped riding Beef Or Salmon at precisely the same point as Roger Loughran on Central House in the big race the previous afternoon, half-way up the run-in. But where Loughran perpetrated one of the immortal sporting cock-ups, Carberry was simply confirming himself the cocksure, swaggering master of their profession.

If the collective image of Irish jump jockeys had suffered from Loughran's harrowing blunder - he began tragi-comic celebrations after passing some phantom winning post - then Carberry was the ideal man to restore perspectives. Certainly the success of Beef Or Salmon in the Lexus Chase ensured that this has been a terrific meeting for Carberry, even before he teams up with the the Champion Hurdle favourite, Harchibald, on today's card.

The fact is that the overall standard of riding over jumps has never been better. Indeed, parochial assumptions that Tony McCoy is the best in history do not stand up especially well even to his own generation. And while Ruby Walsh and Barry Geraghty are no less accomplished, none of them quite match the impudent tint of genius in Carberry.

To dwell on his role yesterday might seem an injustice to a horse whose own merits had already secured this prize twice, and qualified him to start at odds-on against four rivals this time. But Beef Or Salmon's frailties are at least as familiar, and his pragmatic trainer, Michael Hourigan, knows that Carberry contributes hugely to his confidence.

Here the horse tackled his fences with the sort of gusto he showed winning the 2002 running as a novice, and he duly remained suffused with energy as he took over on the long run to the final fence. By the time he reached the site of Loughran's doom he was in such command that Carberry was able to ease him to a walk, and still maintain a four-length advantage over War Of Attrition.

"That's the best he has jumped since his fall at Cheltenham," Hourigan said, referring to the third-fence fall that punished his audacity in going for the Gold Cup as a novice. Hourigan traces the physical problems that have inhibited the fulfilment of Beef Or Salmon to that day, but his back has evidently required far less physiotherapy this season. "He made only one mistake today and Paul blamed himself for that," Hourigan said. "Otherwise he said that the horse had come up in his hands from the very first fence."

Whether Beef Or Salmon will ever get his lines right in the Gold Cup is another story. Hourigan's yard was hopelessly out of form when he was pulled up last season, and there was a hint of wistfulness in an observation he made as a cold sun shrank behind the Wicklow Hills. "Often the best horse in the race doesn't win the Gold Cup," he said. "But certainly he has the potential to do so."

Ladbrokes cut Beef Or Salmon from 10-1 to share 7-1 second favouritism behind Kicking King (7-4) with Kingscliff, the horse who beat them both at Haydock last month, but then sank without trace at Sandown on Boxing Day. In the meantime Beef Or Salmon will be back here for the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup in February, where another improved show can be expected from Hedgehunter.

The runaway Grand National winner had shown little when reappearing over hurdles, but he jumped buoyantly in the lead here, and persevered quietly once headed for a respectable fourth. Willie Mullins indicated he would go straight to Aintree if failing to earn a crack at the Gold Cup with his Hennessy performance, but there is no question that he retains every right to do just that. The huge prices available against him do scant justice to the improvement that seems guaranteed as he approaches the spring.

Carberry had already won a Grade One prize on Rosaker, picking up the pieces after Emotional Moment and Solerina softened each other up with a bare-knuckle duel for the Christmas Hurdle from half-way down the back straight. Solerina, unproven over three miles, showed all her usual pluck in retrieving the lead, but she was running on empty and faded into fourth.

Noel Meade was astonished by Rosaker's success after long absence, but he has enjoyed that kind of week. "When you're in luck your pigs will fly," he said. Meade saddled three winners the previous day - including an authentic Cheltenham novice in Sweet Wake - and today runs Harchibald in the Festival Hurdle. This is the horse that Carberry was born to ride, and there is not much higher praise than that.

Chris McGrath

Nap: Enjoy The Buzz

(Lingfield 3.05)

NB: Lady Hopeful

(Lingfield 3.40)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Rocky road: Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino play an estranged husband and wife in 'San Andreas'
filmReview: In the face of all-round devastation, even Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson appears a little puny
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Bright lights, big city: Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles by dusk
books
Sport
Harry Kane makes Paul Scholes' Premier League team of the season
footballPaul Scholes on the best players, managers and goals of the season - and the biggest disappointments
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Middleweight

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's fastest growing full s...

Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

£35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

Recruitment Genius: Commercial Engineer

£30000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Estimating, preparation of tech...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will work as part of a smal...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor