Nina Carberry wins the 2011 Irish Grand National

Nina Carberry may have been disappointed in her Aintree Grand National run on Character Building this year; but it was all smiles on Saturday 23rd April 2011 as she became only the second woman rider to win the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse on Organisedconfusion.

The scenes following the win were unprecedented, as the popular 26-year-old jockey, universally acknowledged as the best female rider Ireland has ever produced, was kissed by her delighted fellow jockeys, pursued by the press, and mobbed and feted by delighted racegoers – the fine weather having produced a bumper Easter crowd of over 15,000 who enjoyed seeing history made.

This was a family affair, of the kind only Irish racing with its family dynasties of superlative horsemen can produce. The 6-year-old Organisedconfusion, still only a novice, was part-bred and is trained locally by her uncle, veteran Arthur Moore, for stalwart supporter of the yard Mrs Alan Dunlop. To add to the joy, there are already five of Nina’s relatives on the Honour Board of the great race, and only hers was so far missing.

Nina’s late grandfather Dan Moore, who originally trained in the yard over the road from the Fairyhouse course at Meath, shares with Nina’s uncle Arthur and her father Tommy Carberry the enviable record of both riding and training Irish Grand National winners. Arthur won in 1971 on Kings Sprite and had previously trained Feathered Gale to win in 1996.

Her older brothers Paul and Philip have both already succeeded in the saddle: Paul with Aintree Grand National winner Bobbyjo (trained by his father Tommy) in 1998, and with Aitmatov for his boss Noel Meade in 2007 and again on Conna Castle in 2008, while Philip won with Point Barrow in 2006.

This Easter the €250,000 Ladbrokes Irish Grand National attracted a very strong field, and Nina may have had even more serious competition from brother Paul had his intended mount the antepost favourite Beautiful Sound not failed to make the ballot! As it was, she had an untroubled ride on her 12/1 shot, who was far from uncertain to get the trip, but wasn’t inconvenienced by the fast pace set by long time leader Deal Done in a race mercifully free of serious incidents.

Grateful to her uncle for the ride the delighted Nina observed “They had faith in me and gave me great instructions to ‘just go out and enjoy yourself – hopefully go down the inside and get a bit of light’. He made a few little mistakes but was as safe as houses and I’m glad I got the opportunity.”

Bringing her horse through the field to shadow the leaders and take up the running from two fences out, Nina produced her horse to win with perfect timing and was helped by a loose horse to race with. She recounted “We just popped away good and safe all the way round. Arthur said not to be in any hurry as the horse wasn’t a definite stayer and we arrived going well turning for home. I knew I had plenty of horse left turning into the straight and could see many in front of me struggling. After I got a good jump two out to lead I was delighted with the loose horse to keep Organisedconfusion company, as mine started to idle.” 

Moore said: “He’s a lovely horse – so laid-back. “We were a bit worried with him only being six but he has a great engine. He has a fantastic temperament and has never run a bad race. We’ll give him a good break and he’ll still be a big baby when he comes back. It’s a great family occasion with Nina on board – it’s magic to bring this off for some super people.” He added that the horse was very unlikely to face the Aintree fences next season.

Nina Carberry therefore became the first woman to win the Irish Grand National since Mrs Ann Ferris guided the outsider Bentom Boy to success in 1984.

Jenny Pitman remains the only woman trainer to have had victory in the famous race, with Mudahim in 1997.

By Sara Waterson

Pictured: The Carberrys – Philip, Nina and Paul, taken on Irish Grand National Day 2007 (when Paul won on Aitmatov, and all three rode in the race); courtesy of Fairyhouse Racecourse.

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