A DAY after her great rival and friend Katie Walsh retired from race-riding, Nina Carberry has also announced the end of her career as a jockey after partnering Josies Orders to a clear-cut win in the Dooley Insurances Cross County Chase at Punchestown this afternoon.
Nina enjoyed many great successes with Enda Bolger
The 33-year-old, who gave birth to her first child Rosie one year ago, has ridden over 400 racecourse winners.
From a famous racing family in Ashbourne, Co Meath, Nina burst on to the scene in 2005 when she rode her first Cheltenham Festival winner aboard Dabiroun in the Fred Winter Juvenile Novices' Handicap Hurdle. It was the first time in 18 years that a female jockey won a race at the Cheltenham Festival.
The following year she was crowned champion Irish amateur rider for the first time and she retained that title in 2007.
Also in 2007 she won Cross Country Handicap Chase at Cheltenham on Heads Onthe Ground, a race she would go on to win aboard Garde Champetre in 2008 and 2009. She was awarded the same race in 2016 when Josies Orders was later promoted to first place.
All of those cross country winners were trained by Enda Bolger, who also supplied Nina with the mount on dual Cheltenham Foxhunter Chase winner On The Fringe (2015-'16).
On home soil Nina's biggest winner came in the 2011 Irish National when she partnered Organisedconfusion for her uncle Arthur Moore.
Between 2006 and 2016, she competed in the Grand National at Aintree six times, completing the course on four occasions, both records for a female jockey. Her best result being a seventh-place finish on Character Building in 2010.
Nina married Katie Walsh's brother Ted in 2012. She took a break from race-riding in November 2016, announcing she was pregnant. Their daughter Rosie was born in May 2017 and Nina made a winning return to the racecourse at Ballinrobe last September.
Just under 17 years after Sabrinsky gave her a first success on the track and many big race successes later, Nina Carberry confirmed the persistent racecourse rumour that this was to be the dual champion amateur’s last day in the saddle.
Just like Katie Walsh the previous evening, the reception accorded to the jockey is testament to her standing in National Hunt racing and a host of generous and heartfelt tributes marked her final ride in the saddle.
“A couple of months ago I decided that this was going to be the day, win or lose and to go out with a banks race winner here for Enda (Bolger) and J.P. (McManus) makes this very special,” said Nina Carberry, whose career highlights include seven Cheltenham Festival victories and that memorable Irish Grand National victory on Organisedconfusion in 2011.
“I’m just so happy that Josies Orders was able to do it for me today. Actually I was walking the track on Tuesday with Katie Walsh and I told her this was going to be my last Punchestown and she told me the same. This was our time.
“Obviously Noel (Meade) has been so good and loyal to me all the way along and Gordon (Elliott) has been very good to me as well. It means so much to have everyone here today,” concluded Carberry, who intends to continue riding out in Ballydoyle.
Carberry, who returned to the saddle in September after giving birth to her daughter Rosie, retires having notched up in excess of 400 victories on the track and she leaves behind an indelible mark on Irish racing. Upon her return to the enclosure it was entirely fitting that she and Josies Orders were welcomed back by a guard of honour from her weigh room colleagues.
Afterwards winning trainer Enda Bolger paid testament to the jockey’s talents which shone brightly throughout their lengthy and successful association.
“I’m sad but I’m happy. We had a great relationship and I left everything up to her. She was a marvellous person to have anything to do with,” stated Bolger. “Nina excelled over the banks and when she started off riding over them she used to follow J.T. (McNamara) who I’m sure is looking down on her today. Both herself and Nina have done Irish racing proud.”
Among a host of well wishers was an emotional Noel Meade who has been synonymous with the rider throughout her career.
“She’s a great judge and a great jockey and just a marvellous person. Nina is a pleasure to have anything to do with and I’m thrilled for her that she’s gone out in one piece and on a winner.”
The rider’s elder brother Paul was also on hand, commented: “I got a text last night to say that I should come here today. Nina has had a great career and I’m just very proud of her. Her Irish Grand National winner, and her first Cheltenham winner on Dabiroun are two moments that stand out.”