Racing: Dabiroun helps Carberry to prove deadlier than the male

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Big Brother, are you watching? Nina, the second youngest of the Carberry racing clan, thoroughly upstaged her older sibling Paul by riding Dabiroun to perfection for a famous victory in the finale at Cheltenham yesterday. Her eight-length success was not the first by a girl rider at the Festival but on this occasion, the female of this particular species was more deadly than the male. And the first to congratulate her was Paul, who hugged his baby sister in a fierce and tearful embrace after he pulled up on 10th-placed Rolling Home.

Big Brother, are you watching? Nina, the second youngest of the Carberry racing clan, thoroughly upstaged her older sibling Paul by riding Dabiroun to perfection for a famous victory in the finale at Cheltenham yesterday. Her eight-length success was not the first by a girl rider at the Festival but on this occasion, the female of this particular species was more deadly than the male. And the first to congratulate her was Paul, who hugged his baby sister in a fierce and tearful embrace after he pulled up on 10th-placed Rolling Home.

It was Nina's first ride at the meeting and her fairytale finish on the Paul Nolan-trained gelding brought the Anglo-Irish contest to 3-2 to the visitors for the afternoon. The fact was not lost on the 20-year-old, who grabbed a tricolour on the way into the winners' circle and waved it to a roar of approbation that nearly matched that given to the champion hurdler two hours earlier. And leading the cheers were Jennifer, Elizabeth, Berbie, Katie, Rhona, Darina and Anna, seven stylish, young Irish women, Nina's best buddies from way back in Ratoath, Co Meath. The octet made a darling sight as they lined up for a souvenir photo on the victory podium. Girl power indeed.

Carberry was the first woman to score against professionals here since Gee Armytage won the Mildmay of Flete Chase 18 years ago. As a daughter of Gold Cup-winning Tommy Carberry, and with five brothers, she was going to be another chip off the block as a matter of course. She celebrated with much of the family's trademark élan, flicking her whip with expressive, elegant glee as she passed the post in the first running of the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle.

"I came here to cheer on Paul, who I thought would win the Champion," she admitted, "and here am I taking the plaudits. It is just brilliant, and all my friends came over to see me, so it is all quite emotional, a dream come true.

"I had taken advice from my father as to how to ride the course, and I was very confident coming down the hill, where I thought I had only the horse in front to beat. I heard one of the boys shout 'Go on Nina, you've won it' so I kicked on and when I looked behind I could see no danger."

It was Nina's 22nd winner, but a new star is not likely to be born into the professional ranks; she is studying for a sports science degree at college in Dublin. But, as one wag in the press gallery remarked, at least one of those Carberrys can't half ride.

An amateur, she does it for fun and because it is in her blood. Your average jumping owner does it for fun too, but for all their protestations that the sport is the thing, the wealthy entrepreneurs who form the élite backbone of the game did not get where they are in their business lives by enjoying finishing second.

The trio who top the owners' seasonal leaderboard were all on the mark yesterday, David Johnson with Contraband in the Arkle Trophy, JP McManus with Spot Thedifference in the Cross-Country Chase, and Graham Wylie with Arcalis in the opening Supreme Novices' Hurdle.

It was the first strike at the sport's holy grail meeting for Wylie, who has been collecting horses at a cost of £4m, and there was absolutely no mistaking his pleasure at the grey ex-Flat racer's six-length success. Typically of the quiet Geordie, it was as much for trainer Howard Johnson and rider Graham Lee as for himself. "I couldn't see him in the race until he began to get near the front going to the last," he said, "but then I realised he was bang there with a chance and it was a fantastic feeling."

It was a first winner at the meeting for Lee, who said: "Was losing my Festival virginity good for me? You bet it was."

For Johnson and Martin Pipe, it was rather been there, done that. Contraband, who survived a stewards' enquiry to better Ashley Brook, was their fourth winner of the novices' two-mile championship, after Or Royal (1997), Champleve (1998) and Well Chief last year. The seven-year-old landed a reputed seven-figure punt for his owner.

Kelami, trained by François Doumen at Chantilly, took the William Hill Trophy for France, in the Amberleigh House colours of John Halewood.

Comments