Things We Learned » Carberry genius

Carberry genius

So how do you define genius?  How do you capture it in your cupped hands and put it into a jar, or write a mathematical formula for it, or even define it properly? 

Paul Carberry was genius as a jockey.  You can name the genius moments, the genius races. 

Genius has many half-brothers, like uncontainable and unpredictable. You can’t keep genius in a confined space, you can’t restrict its boundaries.  You can’t prevent genius from going hunting just before a big race and, when genius is hunting, you can’t stop it taking on gates and obstacles that are bigger than themselves. 

When Carberry came in after winning the Grand National on Bobbyjo, when he arrived into Aintree’s old winner’s enclosure and had a look up, you just knew that he was going to reach up and grab the rafter.  And genius doesn’t do structure so well: it is not wholly surprising that Carberry was one of the very few who didn’t thrive under the tutelage of master tutor Jim Bolger. 

Well, you try to nail a cloud to the wall.

Carberry was light enough to ride on the flat.  Naturally heavier men have squeezed their frames into flat-racing weights, but where would be the craic in that?  Early in his career he spoke about turning at the top of Leopardstown’s back straight and seeing those six fences stretching out in front of you into the distance.  He was always going to jump, and his relationship with Noel Meade was one of the most enduring, most mutually respectful and mutually beneficial relationships in modern-day racing.

But genius in the saddle is poetry.  Monbeg Dude in the 2013 Welsh National, Rhythm Section in the 1993 Champion Bumper, Frenchman’s Creek in the 2002 William Hill Chase, Beef Or Salmon in the 2004 Lexus Chase.  Name your favourite Carberry horse: Harchibald, Harbour Pilot, Sausalito Bay.  Name your favourite Carberry ride: Fota Island in the 2005 Grand Annual, Sir Oj in the 2005 December Gold Cup, Solwhit in the 2013 World Hurdle.  Not easy, is it?

We will miss him in the saddle now.  We will miss his artistry, we will miss his genius.

Shergar Cup

The success that Ascot’s Shergar Cup (I know we’re going back a bit now) has become, from humble and unpromising beginnings, is relatively surprising.  It is an unusual event for sure, and it’s not for everyone.  Six handicaps for largely solid, unspectacular handicappers, racing in unfamiliar colours, many with unfamiliar riders, is not going to do it for lots of racing fans.

But any racing event which generates the coverage that Shergar Cup day generates, and which gets 30,000 people in through the gates – many of them non ‘regulars’ – on a feel-good day that means that some of them might come back, cannot be a bad thing for racing.

We have had jockeys’ challenges in Ireland in the past, but it is worth kicking around the idea of a Shergar Cup-type event here.  It wouldn’t have to be a four-team event, it could be an Ireland v Britain theme, at least initially.  Or a Boys v Girls theme.  Ideally some theme in which casual racegoers could naturally take a side.  It would need backing, it would need a sponsor or two, and it would need to capture the imagination of the media, but it might be worthwhile kicking around some options. 

Juddmonte anomaly

Postponed was very good in winning the Juddmonte International at York on Wednesday.  He was up against it too.  Roger Varian’s stable was going through a bit of a lull going into the race, and Postponed himself was racing for the first time since he won the Coronation Cup in early June, having side-stepped the King George because of a respiratory infection.  Also, going into the race, his record over 10 furlongs read 4323, while his record over 11 furlongs or further read 11311111.  Now you can add a 1 to his record over 10.

There was an anomaly, however, in the manner in which Postponed drifted to his right through the final furlong, thereby impeding Mutakayyef as he tried to deliver his challenge.  You can easily argue that Postponed was the best horse in the race, that it may have been that Mutakayyef just didn’t have the energy to go past him anyway, competing over the longest distance over which he had ever competed.

But he wasn’t given a chance.  People pointed to the fact afterwards that Postponed’s rider Andrea Atzeni had his whip in his right hand, and that Postponed drifted to his right despite that.  That is no argument.  A rider of Atzeni’s ability can easily get a horse to go to his right while he has his whip in his right hand. 

Also, Postponed drifted from the centre of the track to the stands rail.  You could have fit eight horses easily between Postponed and the stands rail before he started to drift.  Atzeni checked subtly to his right at least twice inside the final furlong, checking to see where Mutakayyef was, and at no point did he try to correct his horse.

It’s race-riding, it was a good ride from Atzeni in the circumstances, it was a good ride under the rules as they stand, but to say that it ‘probably didn’t affect the result anyway’ and move on is not enough.  The fact that Atzeni got two days for careless riding means that something was amiss.  Mutakayyef was challenging when Postponed edged across him.  We don’t know for sure that the Sheikh Hamdan horse would not have mounted a serious challenge.

Also, you can easily argue that, had Postponed not hampered Mutakayyef, William Haggas’ would have finished second, in front of Highland Reel, who got up on the far side, unhindered, to take second place.  So if Postponed’s meanderings prevented Mutakayyef from achieving his best possible placing, should the stewards not have taken action?  Is it correct that you can implement the letter of the law on some occasions and employ common sense on others? 

Scurry working out well

The form of the Scurry Handicap, run at The Curragh on Irish Oaks day, is working out well, as it often does.

The winner, Perfect Pasture, was admittedly well beaten on his next run in the Great St Wilfrid Handicap at Ripon, but there were excuses.  He was drawn poorly that day, he was racing off a 10lb higher mark, and it wasn’t his running anyway.

Three of the next four home in the Scurry have run, and they have all enhanced the form of the race.  Runner-up Master Speaker was only just beaten by Ostatnia at Tipperary next time off a 3lb higher mark, while fourth-placed In Salutem was impressive in winning the Shergar Cup Dash at Ascot next time, and fifth-placed Captain Power has past the post first twice since: once at Naas off a 1lb lower mark, after which (in what had to have been a marginal call) he was disqualified, and once, impressively, showing an impressive turn of foot, at Leoparstown off a 2lb higher mark, after which he wasn’t.

As well as that, Moviesta, 18th in the Scurry, won nicely at Dundalk on Sunday.

Four of the first five home are rated higher now than they were for the Scurry.  The one who isn’t is third-placed Distant Past, who hasn’t run again yet.  Still on his Scurry mark of 83, Kevin Ryan’s horse holds an entry in the Ayr Gold Cup, and he could be a well-handicapped horse now. 

Maths question

Bryan Cooper shares his birthday (7th August) with the world’s winning-most rider Russell Baze.  If Cooper turned 24 this month and Baze turned 58, in what year will the Irish rider be half the Canadian’s age?


© The Irish Field, 20th August 2016