Donn's Articles » Nina retires

Nina retires

Just as Katie Walsh stole the headlines by announcing her retirement at Punchestown on Friday, Nina Carberry stole them yesterday in similar fashion.  Nina landed the opening contest, the Dooley Insurances Cross Country Chase, on Josies Orders, and before she had even dismounted from the horse, she had retired from the saddle.

“I’m going to follow Katie and retire now,” she told RTE’s Tracy Piggott on the walk back to the winner’s enclosure.   “It has been a marvellous career.  It’s a bit emotional, but I think I should end it on one of Enda (Bolger)’s around the banks, and for JP (McManus).”

It is ironic that the two riders should retire within 24 hours of each other.  There are striking similarities between the two of them: both top class amateur riders, both from racing dynasties, both of similar vintage, both mould-breakers.  If ever a question arose about whether or not a female rider could be as good as a male rider, Nina Carberry and Katie Walsh were the two riders who immediately came to mind. 

And their respective careers moved along parallel lines.  The day after Katie won the Land Rover Bumper at Punchestown on Glencove Marina, Nina won the Champion Bumper on Leading Run.  Nina became the first female rider to win the Irish Grand National in 27 years when she won it on Organisedconfusion in 2011, and Katie emulated the feat on Thunder And Roses four years later. 

And then there was that duel that they had in the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in 2010, when they finished first and second, Poker De Sivola and Katie Walsh getting home by just over two lengths from Becauseicouldntsee and Nina Carberry.

And on top of all that, they are sisters-in-law.  Nina’s husband is Katie’s brother Ted.

As well as that Irish Grand National win, Nina has amassed two Punchestown Champion Bumpers, both for trainer Noel Meade, and seven Cheltenham Festival wins, including four Cross-Country Chases and two Foxhunters for owner JP McManus and trainer Enda Bolger.

“Enda has been a massive supporter of mine,” said Nina.  “I wouldn’t have had all the Cheltenham winners that I had without him or JP.  Obviously Noel Meade has always been a massive supporter of mine and he has always been very loyal.  Gordon Elliott too, and Gigginstown.  I couldn’t have been here without all of them.

“I had been thinking about it for a while, and today was the day.  I’m sad that it’s all finished.  It’s a career that I’d never swap for anything.  To work at something that you enjoy.  It’s the next chapter now though and I’m happy that there is a new career in front of me.”

“She was a pleasure to work with and to have anything to do with,” said Noel Meade.  “She’s a fabulous judge and tactician, and a really accomplished rider.  She’s a very special person.  One in a million.” 

© The Sunday Times, 29th April 2018