Irish jump racing legend Tommy Carberry has died aged 75. The head of one of Ireland’s leading racing dynasties, Carberry achieved the remarkable feat of winning the Grand National both as a rider and a trainer. He guided L’Escargot (GB) to victory over Red Rum (GB) in 1975 and saddled Bobbyjo (Ire) to land the world’s greatest steeplechase in 1999, ridden by his son Paul, who confirmed the news.
He said, “He passed away just before lunchtime today. He’d been ill for a while and fought it for a long time. He gave me a Grand National winner and has been great for Irish racing. He got the best out of everything he produced.”
Born in County Meath, Carberry soon made his mark as a jockey and was a multiple champion National Hunt rider in Ireland in the 1970s. He enjoyed great success on L’Escargot, not only winning the National, but the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1970 and 1971. Carberry also won the blue riband of jump racing on Ten Up (GB), but was denied a fourth success when Tied Cottage, who was first past the post in 1980 was later disqualified on a technicality. He also won the Irish Grand National on Brown Lad (GB) in 1975 and 1976. He retired from the saddle in 1982 to take up training and sent out Bobbyjo to win the latter race in 1998, the year before he went on to glory at Aintree.
He is survived by his wife Pamela, sons Thomas, Paul, Philip, Peter and Mark and daughter Nina. Four of Carberry’s children–Paul, Philip, Peter and Nina–have carved successful careers in racing.
Noel Meade is intrinsically linked to the Carberry family, with Paul filling the role as stable jockey during his career, while Nina has ridden as an amateur for the yard as well as operating as a racing assistant for Meade. However, the handler’s connection to Tommy Carberry goes back further than that.
Meade said, “He was a legend, and a hero of mine from when I was a kid. He rode the first winner I had in Galway on Larks Venture. I always enjoyed meeting him, and going for a drink with him in Ratoath. He was a genius in the saddle, and Paul was very like him.”
Added Meade, “Tommy could ride a horse to win from the front one day, and hold him and win the next day. He was a fabulous tactician and judge of pace, and just had that natural talent that is so hard to come by–it is bred in him. It was fantastic to see him train Bobbyjo to win the National. He didn’t have many bullets to fire as a trainer, and to win one of the greatest races of all was fantastic. To have Paul riding him made it all the more special and it was just a magical day. I have great memories of him and it’s so sad to hear he’s gone. We have been expecting it for quite a while and at least he’s at peace now. He was a great one and we’ll miss him.”