The big story from last week was the retirement of Katie Walsh and Nina Carberry. Katie got the perfect result, bowing out on a winner. It was a spectacular finish for Katie, getting up over the last stride to beat Barry Geraghty by a nose. For anybody to beat a rider of his quality is brilliant, and it was wonderful that she was able to do so in her last ride.
It was a similarly perfect ending for Nina, who won on Josies Orders for Enda Bolger and JP McManus, with whom she has been so closely associated.
They have been two huge ambassadors for female jockeys by what they have achieved through their career. They have raised the profile of female jockeys to the point people are pointing out they should simply be known as ‘riders’, rather than ‘lady riders’. That’s how far they’ve brought their profession.
They’ve performed on the biggest stages – Cheltenham, Irish Grand Nationals, and more – and have won plenty of important races. They’ve ridden winners in banks races, in flat races, over jumps in chases and hurdles. They’ve won against amateurs and professionals. They’ve done everything, and have had hugely successful careers.
It’s funny that they’ve both decided to call and end to those careers in the same week – I can only imagine they told each other on the Tuesday at Punchestown. It was great for me to be there to witness it as well.
People keep saying it’s a relief that Katie gets to retire on her own terms, but I’ve always been proud to say she was my little sister. My father said recently that he’d be worried more about her when watching us race, but that’s just normal for a parent looking at their daughter.
Katie’s highlights in the saddle obviously include winning the Irish Grand National, but there was also the Champion Bumper on Blow By Blow and on Thousand Stars in the Prix La Barka.
Nina’s had plenty of her own as well, including on Josies Orders and Organised Confusion. Neither of them ever gave away an opportunity they were given.
Back in the saddle in May?
I’d love to be back racing by Auteuil. For fans of the jumps looking for something to do with their summer, there are two excellent days of racing in Paris coming up on the 19th and 20th of May.
All you have to do is look at what Willie might send, including Djakadam for the Grand Steeplechase. We’re also looking at possibly sending over Faugheen, Saglawy, Mr Adjuticator and Stormy Ireland, maybe even Penhill.
So that’s where I’d love to be. Whether I’ll be there or not is a completely different matter.
The leg itself feels good and the rehab is going well. But it’s taking time. I’m flat out in the gym and I’m making progress. The next fortnight or 17 days will tell. We’ll give it every chance.
But my surgeon will have to be very happy with my leg before he lets me ride again. Given the calibre horse we’ll be sending to France, that’s where I hope to be. Whether that’s realistic – well, only time will tell.