CHELTENHAM 2013: Brave and brilliant Carberry toast of green army

It’s not St Patrick’s Day until Sunday, of course, but that didn’t stop Cheltenham splashing the place green for ‘St Patrick’s Thursday’, and, fittingly, the Irish ran riot with a host of successes.

The most notable was Solwhit in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, Paul Carberry delivering a beautiful ride aboard the Charles Byrnes-trained horse and he was greeted in the winners’ enclosure by his delighted sister, Nina, running out of the weighing room. At least she still had her voice, though, as Pat O’Hanlon, one of the owners of the French-bred hero, was hoarse after shouting home his horse. “Our man gave him a mighty ride,” O’Hanlon almost whispered. “He’s just the best there is.” On his day, it’s a statement that’s hard to disagree with.

Carberry didn’t move a muscle for much of the race. Nothing strange in that – he’s cool as a cucumber. But when celebrations were muted as he trotted back past the main grandstand something was clearly wrong. No punch of the air? No wild geeing up of the crowd? No, he was nursing a shoulder injury after taking a bang on it earlier in the week. “It just hurt my ligaments and tendons,” Carberry said. “I had a couple of shots in it yesterday which didn’t work but my own doctor, who is very good, came over this morning and gave me an injection that worked. Fortunately the racecourse doctor passed me fit to ride.” That Carberry. He’s brave as well as brilliant.

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IRELAND also took the opening race for the third day in succession. Tony Martin’s Benefficient won the Jewson at 20/1 and his owners were understandably delirious in the winners’ enclosure. “Jesus, how do you think I feel! It’s a dream, it’s a dream come true,” said co-owner Aidan Shiels, owner of the Irish Rover pub in New York. Niall Reilly, who owns the other half of Benefficent was equally excitable. “He’s a giant-killer. He should’ve won the Arkle on Tuesday but we said we wanted to take on Dynaste. The tactics were ten thousand per cent right. We’ve been known to celebrate when there’s hardly anything happening so I’d say you’ll hear all about us today! ” The owners weren’t the only ones in dreamland as for jockey Bryan Cooper, son of two-time winning Festival trainer Tom Cooper, it was also a first success. “This is what you dream of when you are very small,” he said.

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ONE Irishman who is used to coming first, but has had to settle for second on several occasions this week, is Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary. He was getting animated as First Lieutenant loomed up on Cue Card’s quarters in his own race, but a mistake at the second last knocked the stuffing out of the Mouse Morris-trained horse. After Rule The World came runner-up in the Neptune, it was another frustrating blow for the ebullient businessman who said: “I’m getting a lot of practice at coming second this week. You know it’s never over until they cross that bloody line but poor old First Lieutenant couldn’t keep up.” But would he be embarrassed at picking up his own prize? Not a chance. “I wouldn’t be embarrassed picking any prize up here,” he said.

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IT was a mixed day for JP McManus. Get Me Out Of Here couldn’t land a blow in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, while Cantlow was withdrawn just before the start of the Byrne Group Plate on vet’s advice after blood was spotted on him in the parade ring. That wasn’t part of the plan after he had learned his chasing trade over two miles around small tracks like Warwick and Lingfield and Plumpton. But, despite not having a winner, McManus was spotted celebrating one in the winner’s enclosure, as he was right in amongst it grinning like a Cheshire cat with his Coolmore buddy Paul Smith after Holywell’s success in the Pertemps Final. Jonjo O’Neill trained the winner, and the fourth, Shutthefrontdoor – also owned by McManus.

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LATER on, Ryan Hatch got the better of Derek O’Connor in a truly thrilling finish to the Kim Muir when edging Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Same Difference home ahead of Super Duty. He’s a talented lad, and his talents go beyond race riding as somehow, when he crossed the line, he tweeted that the drinks were on him at the Hollow Bottom in celebration of his Festival winner! Stunned to hear of the tweet in the winner’s enclosure, the young rider seemed more concerned about the potential bar bill rather than the breach of social media security. The message here is a clear one kids: never give anybody your password.

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A few delays late in the day meant the charity race was run in the Cheltenham gloom – a familiar expression on plenty of punters’ faces after some real shocks on day three. 50/1, 25/ 1, 20/1 and 16/1 winners were returned on a day when not one favourite came home in front. Those dastardly layers, apparently down on their knees after Ruby Walsh’s treble on day one, couldn’t hide their glee. David Williams of Ladbrokes was one such bookie and he said: “For the first time this week the sun shone and it shone on the bookies. We had the busiest half hour of the week when we went 6/1 the field in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle. Oscar Whisky was backed off the boards in no time at all. The results then went our way.”

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