Nina Carberry Q&A: "You’re never told here ‘you can’t do that because you’re a girl’"

Nina Carberry is probably the most successful female National Hunt jockey of all time, having ridden Cheltenham winners, an Irish Grand National winner among many successes. Carberry was in brilliant form at Cheltenham yesterday, steering Josies Orders to victory in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase before completing a double when winning the Cheltenham Club Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase on Knock House

 

Q:

With the National Hunt season moving up a gear in recent weeks, is this a time of year that excites you?

A:

“Exactly. The big guns are starting to have their first runs of the season and it’s an exciting time of the year, everything is geared towards all the big festivals and you’d hope you’d get on a nice bumper horse and see it progress. I’ve ridden a few lately that will progress. It’s a nice feeling getting back on the winter horses again.”

Q:

How did you spend the summer?

A:

“I’ve come from Meath, working with Noel Meade, down to Ballydoyle working for Aidan O’Brien and that was a big move for me coming down to Tipperary and it kind of went from there. I do the Flat with him during the summer and I’ve gained a lot of experience from him and it’s been great. It’s really opened my eyes about the Flat a bit more so I’m busy both times of the year now.”

Q:

It’s an interesting link-up with Ballydoyle, how did it come about?

A:

“Well I’ve always wanted to see how the flat works and he is one of the best trainers in the world. It was one of the things I always wanted to do so I just went out and did it. It’s really good, I love it. It’s a different job obviously, it’s flat which I wouldn’t have been used to as I’ve grown up in a jumping family but it’s good to see a different view of it.”

Q:

You’re still riding for Noel Meade?

A:

“I’m riding his bumper horses still and it’s going well. He’s a great man to work for and I’ll continue riding for him, hopefully. I ride a few for Gigginstown and On the Fringe is there as well, I won at Cheltenham on him for JP McManus and it’s great to be able to keep the partnership with them. It’s not easy because I have another job so I don’t get to ride them [at home] and they’ve been very good to leave me on.”

Q:

Are there any horses in general you’re particularly looking forward to seeing during the winter?

A:

“I’d love Road to Riches to progress from last year and see him go two better in the Gold Cup. He’s shown he’s a proper Grade One horse so I think that if everything goes right for him this season — Noel has found the key to him now and he held his form all last year — hopefully he’ll do that again this year and be a big contender. Don Cossack is another one that’s done well this season already so it will be interesting to see how he does at Christmas as well. I loved the Gold Cup winner [Coneygree] the other day, I think he’s going to be hard to beat if he keeps his form all season. Then there’s Vautour and Faugheen and Annie Power, there’s bucketloads of horses Willie has. I love this time of year, it’s exciting.”

Q: What about Noel’s horses, the likes of Road to Riches and Apache Stronghold, is there a feeling that they’ve improved during the summer?

A:

“I’d say Road to Riches has gotten stronger and Apache Stronghold has to progress from what he did last year. Obviously he wasn’t a match for Vautour [at Cheltenham] so they’ll probably go a different route to Vautour because he was beaten a good bit by him but he’s definitely a Grade One contender, probably at a different distance.”

Q:

What did you think of Michelle Payne’s comments regarding chauvinism in the sport after she rode the winner of the Melbourne Cup?

A:

“You see it’s very hard for me or any girl from here to comment on it, as in I don’t know what situation they have over there for women, but here you’re on a level playing field. You’re never told ‘you can’t do that because you’re a girl’. It’s all about your ability here, to be honest. You’ll get your chance and the ladies’ races give us the opportunity to show that we can ride properly and when trainers put horses in they’re supporting you and the whole industry is supporting ladies’ races. I don’t know how it’s set up over there, it’s hard to know, but she obviously felt that. But at the end of the day she did ride in the Melbourne Cup, she did get the opportunity, and she was good enough.”

Q:

You’ve won an Irish National, ridden Cheltenham winners, ridden in the Aintree National, is there any race you’d like to win over the next few years?

A:

“There’s always the Aintree National, it’s the one everyone wants to win. I’ve done well in it, gone around, I’d have preferred to finish closer but that’s the luck of the draw isn’t it? It’s like a lottery.”

Q:

Could you do it?

A:

“Depending on the horse, and you have to have luck. You could be on the best horse and fall at the first, it’s such a unique race. It’s the one everyone wants to win.”

  • Nina Carberry is brand ambassador for John Kennedy Motors in Clonmel, run by former Tipperary hurling star John Kennedy. This interview took place after the Toyota ShowTime event where Nina was test-driving the 161 Toyota range.



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