Paul Carberry is the son of Tommy Carberry, who won the 1975 Grand National on L’Escargot, and did, in fact, emulate his father by winning the 1999 renewal of the world famous steeplechase on Bobbyjo. Carberry Jnr. was forced to retire from race riding in August, 2016, after failing to recover sufficiently from a fractured femur sustained in a fall at Listowel the previous September. He said at the time, “I saw my surgeon today and he advised me to stop. My leg’s not strong enough. I feel gutted.”
However, in a 26-year career, Paul Carberry rode over 1,500 winners on both sides of the Irish Sea, including 14 at the Cheltenham Festival. His first Festival success came aboard Rhythm Section in the Guinness Festival Bumper – now the Weatherbys Champion Bumper – in 1993, while he was still claiming a 5lb allowance, although arguably his biggest win was on Looks Like Trouble, who won the 1999 Royal and SunAlliance Chase by a distance. Looks Like Trouble, of course, returned to Prestbury Park to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup, under Richard Johnson, the following year.
For all his success, Carberry is probably equally well remembered for failing to win the 2005 Champion Hurdle on the talented, but enigmatic, Harchibald. Under a typically patient ride, Harchibald was still hard on the bridle halfway up the run-in at Cheltenham, but, as soon as Carberry applied any pressure, emptied to nothing and was beaten a neck by Hardy Eustace. Carberry later reflected, “Halfway up the run-in I still felt I had the better of Hardy Eustace but I didn’t dare go for my horse. I knew that, if I went to the front, he would stop.” Perhaps unfairly, Carberry was considered reckless to have delayed his challenge until the last second.
On and off the racecourse, Carberry was never far from controversy. In 2005, he was sentenced to two months’ imprisonment, later reduced to community service, for setting fire to a newspaper on an international flight and, in 2009, served a 30-day ban after failing a breath test before racing.