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)

News
The cartoon depicts the UK (far left) walking around a Syrian child refugee
newsIn an exclusive artwork for The Independent, Ali Ferzat attacks Britain's lack of 'humanity'
Life and Style
Man taking selfie in front of car
health
Sport
footballManager attacks Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp after criticism of Diego Costa's apparent stamping
Life and Style
food + drink
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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: Digital Account Manager - OTE £40,000

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This web-based lead generation ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Intervention Teacher Required To Start ASAP.

£125 - £150 per day + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: A 'wonderful primary ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Maths Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Our client is an 11-16 mixed commun...

Recruitment Genius: PHP / Drupal / SaaS Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly developing company in...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore