HEARTFELT tributes have been paid to legendary Irish jump racer Tommy Carberry, who has passed away at the age of 75.
Carberry achieved the remarkable feat of winning the Grand National both as a rider and a trainer and was one of the most popular figures in the sport.
Carberry – father to jockeys Paul, Philip, Peter and Nina – guided L’Escargot to victory over Red Rum at Aintree in 1975.
He later trained the 1999 Grand National-winner Bobbyjo, which was ridden by his son Paul.
Confirming his father’s death, Paul Carberry said: “He passed away just before lunchtime today [Wednesday]. He’d been ill for a while and fought it for a long time.
“He gave me a Grand National winner and has been great for Irish racing. He got the best out of everything he produced.”
Born in Ratoath in Co. Meath, Tommy Carberry rode his first race in 1958 in his mid-teens and became champion apprentice in 1959, beginning a riding career that lasted until 1982 when he became a trainer.
With son Paul in the saddle, he trained the 1998 Irish Grand National winner Bobbyjo.
Father and son then replicated the success the following year in Liverpool as Bobbyjo landed 1999’s Aintree spectacular.
Frank Berry, who rode alongside Carberry and was a long-time friend of the family, said that he had many great memories of Tommy.
“It’s very sad news, an awfully sad day for racing,” Berry said. “Tommy and I went back a long way. We rode against one another and travelled together. He was a top-class jockey.
“He was a marvellous horseman – whether he was riding a chaser or a two-year-old it was all the one to Tommy Carberry. I don’t think we ever had cross words.
“I was privileged then to ride winners for him as a trainer. With the ammunition he had, he did a marvellous job.
“As a man, he was simply straightforward, such a good fellow. My sympathies to his wife Pamela and his entire family. He was a legend and passed on a lot to his sons and to Nina.”
Brian Kavanagh, CEO of Horse Racing Ireland, also paid tribute, saying: “Tommy was champion apprentice and in 1979 rode Fordham to success for Vincent O’Brien in the race which would evolve into the Irish Champion Stakes.
“He will be forever remembered for riding top jumpers like L’Escargot and Tied Cottage, and the Dreapers’ Ten Up; and landing successes in iconic races such as the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Aintree Grand National.”
Ted Walsh, whose son Ted Jr is married to Tommy’s daughter Nina, said: “He was one of the great riders of his era, or of any era, a great man on the big day. He was a grand man, an unassuming fellow who wore success lightly on his shoulders. He handled pressure well.
“The horse I always will remember when thinking of him is L’Escargot. For him to ride a winner and train a winner of the National means he is part of a very select club of people.”
Legendary horse trainer Noel Meade, who is also from Co. Meath, said Carberry was a “genius” of the sport.
Meade said: “He was a legend, and a hero of mine from when I was a kid.
“He rode the first winner I had in Galway on Larks Venture. I think it was just the second winner I’d had at the time after Tu Va, and he rode a good few for me.
“He was a genius in the saddle, and Paul was very like him. He was nearly a carbon copy of him.”