Grand National: Paul Carberry on win that kick-started the Irish racing revolution

A trip down memory lane to the race that kick started the Irish racing revolution.

Paul Carberry

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Legendary former jockey Paul Carberry joined Paddy Power and Ruby Walsh for a rewind to the 1999 Grand National with the 2022 edition set to go at Aintree this Saturday.

The last renewal of the 20th century was the one that breathed life into Irish racing and heralded the start of a long period of dominance.

Bobbyjo was the first Irish horse to win the Grand National in 17 years and Carberry became the first Irish jockey to claim victory in the marathon race for almost a quarter of a century, becoming the first man to do so since his father Tommy 24 years earlier.

“It was the highlight of my career,” He tells Paddy in the video you can watch in full above or by clicking here.

“It was brilliant to win the race but to win it for my father as well. I knew it was the pinnacle of my career, even at 25.”

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“It was what I had dreamed about my whole life.

So what was the key to this seismic victory for Irish racing?

“Bobbyjo travelled great the whole way,” Paul explains. “If you’re playing catch up you’re in trouble.

“His jumping was great, that’s the thing – if they’re jumping well they’ll stay better.

The next year he made a couple of mistakes early on and that was him gone.

“But as I was going round I was thinking, ‘I’m having a great run, he’s jumping great, keep giving him air, don’t go to early.’ I passed Norman [Williamson, on General Wolfe] and he said, ‘Long way home, John!’ He was right, I needed to take my time and I did.

“I said, there’s a long way home for you, too!”

“When I got the the elbow I just thought ‘pinch me’. He just kept pulling away. The further we went the further he got.”

“You looked back four times from the elbow the the winning post,” Ruby asks, “You really couldn’t believe it!”

“I thought I was in a dream or something,” Paul repiled, grinning. “It couldn’t be happening. Irish horses didn’t win the National. It’s a great feeling when somebody stops you in the street to say well done, it just gives you a lift.”

Ruby followed up to win the 2000 Grand National on Papillon to make it two in two for the Irish and to pave the way for eight more Irish-trained winners since Ruby’s first 22 years ago.

“It’s just phenomenal the upturn in the fortunes of Irish racing [since then],” Ruby recalls. “I remember sitting there in the press room in Wexford in 1999 with Barry Geraghty watching that and the noise and excitement for what had happened Aintree was huge for everyone.

“I didn’t remember an Irish horse winning. I was only 19. To me, Irish horses didn’t win the Grand National, the odd horse might run into 5th or 6th. I was sitting there thinking, how far will Paul get?”

Paul added: “I started the trend. Ruby wasn’t long following, though!”

Rachel Blackmore made history last year on Minella Times becoming the first female jockey to win the National. The 2022 Grand National edition goes at 5.15pm on Saturday and you can check out all the prices on the runners and riders here.

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