Ladbrokes Irish Grand National Leading Ladies of Racing Named
Monday, 1 January 1
Five of the country’s leading female jockeys were announced today as the Ladbrokes Irish Grand National ‘Leading Ladies of Racing’. Nina Carberry, Kate Harrington, Jane Mangan, Liz Lalor and Katie Walsh are all well known faces in the winner’s enclosure at race meetings around the country, all have unique links with the Grand National were chosen by leading racing journalists. Never before were there more ladies in the traditionally male dominated weighroom as we now regularly see our two leading lady riders Nina Carberry and Katie Walsh winning top races at the racing Olympics which is Cheltenham and the Ladbrokes Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse.
The Ladbrokes Irish Grand National Easter Festival which takes place from Sunday 8th - Tuesday 10th April at Fairyhouse racecourse is one of the most prestigious and valuable handicap steeplechases in Ireland, and a firm fixture in racegoers diaries. Nina Carberry became the second woman in history to win the race when she rode the Arthur Moore trained Organisedconfusion to victory in 2011. Speaking of her hopes for this year’s Ladbrokes Irish Grand National, Nina said: “You’re not always lucky enough to get a ride in it. I was very lucky to get a ride in it last year and to win it was just very special”.
Horse Racing Ireland has also commissioned a piece of footage entitled ‘Nina’s Backstage Pass’ in which Nina gives racegoers and the general public a behind- the- scenes look at the work undertaken by women in the industry. Speaking of her involvement with the ‘Backstage Pass’ on-line video, Nina said: “I am happy to be involved and think it is a great way to recognise the hard work done by women in the industry”. See www.goracing.ie/leadingladies for more information.
There is strong public interest in the sport, which saw 1.2m people attend race meetings last year. Ladies days are always a popular feature of the big festivals but women also feature strongly in the day to day running of the industry, which employs over 16,500 people in Ireland.
Michelle O'Grady, Head of Marketing at Ladbrokes said "The Ladbrokes Irish Grand National is known as one of the great racing occasions for decades and has always been a fantastic occasion for families. The Irish have always had the best Owners, Breeders, Trainers, Jockeys and races in the world and of course it goes without saying that we have the best Lady riders who compete regularly for the best prizes in the best races in the world".
Tamso Doyle, PR Manager for HRI commented on the new initiative: “Nina’s Backstage Pass was done to give people a behind-the-scenes look at the work done by some of the top professional women in the industry, many who you wouldn’t necessarily see on a raceday. These five ‘Leading Lady’ riders Nina, Katie, Jane, Liz and Kate are dedicated, talented and tough which has put them at the top of their sport and are blazing the trail created by the likes of Joanna Morgan, Liz Doyle, Caroline Hutchison, Clare McMahon, Anne Marie and Frances Crowley to name a few and we wish them every success.”
www.goracing.ie/pics/2012/ladies/jockeys_015.jpg - Kate Harrington
www.goracing.ie/pics/2012/ladies/jockeys_056.jpg - Jane Mangan
www.goracing.ie/pics/2012/ladies/jockeys_272.jpg - Katie Walsh
www.goracing.ie/pics/2012/ladies/jockeys_315.jpg - Nina Carberry
www.goracing.ie/pics/2012/ladies/jockeys_387.jpg - Group shot
www.goracing.ie/pics/2012/ladies/jockeys_434.jpg - laughing group shot
www.goracing.ie/pics/2012/ladies/jockeys_507.jpg - Group shot
www.goracing.ie/pics/2012/ladies/jockeys_659.jpg - sitting on fence
www.goracing.ie/pics/2012/ladies/Liz_Lalor.jpg - Liz Lalor
From: Ashbourne, Co Meath
Notable Successes: Ladbrokes.com Irish Grand National (Organisedconfusion 2011), Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle (Dabiroun 2005), Glenfarclas Handicap Cross Country Chase (Heads Onthe Ground 2007, Garde Champetre 2008-2009), Paddy Power Champion INH Flat Race (Leading Run 2006, Mick The Man 2007), Cork Grand National (Penny Hall 2006)
Principal Trainers: Noel Meade, Enda Bolger, Tommy Carberry
Only people of a certain standing are identifiable merely by their Christian names. As is the case for AP and Ruby, so it applies to Nina. Which is why the Meath native is renowned not as a leading lady rider, but simply as one of Ireland’s top jockeys. She transcends gender.
Nina Carberry’s entire existence seems intertwined with the Ladbrokes.com Irish Grand National. Her grandfather, Dan Moore trained Tied Cottage to win the race in 1979. By that stage, her uncle, Arthur Moore had already ridden King’s Sprite to success in 1971, as had her father, Tommy, on board Brown Lad in 1975 and 1976.
Brother Paul joined the family roll of honour when Bobbyjo took the spoils in 1998, in the process, putting Tommy in the select group of individuals who had both ridden and trained winners of the storied race.
Yet another sibling, Philip was on board when Point Barrow prevailed in 2006, so nobody should have been surprised when it was Nina’s turn last year, thanks to a brilliant ride on Organisedconfusion – trained by the aforementioned Uncle Arthur.
“I grew up just down the road from Fairyhouse and I was going to the National ever since I was a kid” explains Nina. “Bobbyjo won there and it’s just a special day. The fact that it’s the Irish National makes it special in itself and all the history just adds to it.”
Nina has finished the Aintree Grand National on all three times she has participated and all going well with Organisedconfusion’s last prep run this weekend, will travel in April with dreams of repeating Bobbyjo’s Liverpool success in 1999.
But for now, there is no doubting that winning the Ladbrokes.com Irish Grand National has been the highlight of a much-garlanded career. Nina will be sponsored by Fairyhouse racecourse for the 2012 season.
From: Kill, Co Kildare
Notable successes: Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle (Thousand Stars 2010), National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup (Poker De Sivola 2010), Bar One Racing Handicap Hurdle (Thousand Stars 2009), Leopardstown Handicap Chase (Seabass 2012), www.tote.com Hurdle (Dorset Square 2010), Goffs Land Rover Bumper (Glencove Marina 2006)
Principal Trainers: Ted Walsh, Willie Mullins
Katie Walsh has plenty in common with Nina Carberry. For a start, they are good friends. More than that, they recently became sisters-in-law when Nina married Katie’s brother, Ted jnr.
They have been going toe-to-toe on the track for some time now though and it’s every woman for herself when you turn for home and the whips are drawn.
Indeed, few will ever forget the outstanding finish to the National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup at the 2010 Cheltenham festival, when the duo drove their willing mounts at the last fence and threw everything at them up the famous rise.
In the end it was Katie who prevailed on Poker De Sivola and within seconds of crossing the line, Nina was giving her a hug.
Those were an amazing few days for Katie, as she finished the meeting with two winners, when Thousand Stars won the Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle. The daughter of Ted and sister of Ruby would be known throughout the racing world for her own achievements from this point on.
When the opportunities increased, she showed an outstanding ability to get a horse to meet its fences right. One memory is of her tremendous horsemanship to avoid a loose horse on the approach to a fence (none other than Organisedconfusion, who had uncharacteristically parted company with Nina at the first) when riding her father’s progressive Seabass to victory at Leopardstown last January.
Katie’s National memories surround Papillon winning at Aintree in 2000 and Commanche Court claiming the honours at Fairyhouse a couple of weeks later. Both were trained by her father and ridden by her brother.
“I went over on the box with Papillon and led him up” Katie recalls. “There was huge excitement with Ruby riding and it being Dad’s first horse with a chance. I was 15 at the time. It was absolutely amazing.
“Everyone dreams of riding in a National, or being connected to a horse that’s involved in the National. Even the buzz of working in a yard where you might have a horse running in a National is huge”.
“I’d love to ride something in the National, that would be brilliant. Everyone got a great kick out of Nina winning last year. For a girl to win a National, it was great for racing. People didn’t expect it to happen.”
From: Lisronagh, Co Tipperary
Notable successes: Phil Sweeney Memorial Chase (Carrigeen Kalmia 2007), Clarkson Financial Handicap Chase (Carrigeen Kalmia 2007), ITBA Mares’ Chase (Carrigeen Kalmia 2007)
Principal Trainers: Dick Lalor
If you want proof that the girls are just as tough as their male counterparts, look no further than Liz Lalor. AP McCoy has rightly been lauded for his remarkable feats of fortitude in the past and had the great Ulsterman ridden a winner ten weeks after breaking his neck, it would have been front page news.
That type of fanfare didn’t surround Carrigeen Lechuga’s Thurles success on February 9 but it represented a remarkable comeback for Liz, who had fractured her C1 vertebra in a fall in a point-to-point race at the end of November.
Brushing it off as no big deal, she actually wanted to take up her last ride of the day but thankfully, was prevailed upon to go to Cork hospital. Eight weeks in a brace, during which she had a couple of “sneaky sits on some horses in the yard” and she was ready to go again.
“It was brilliant, a nice way to come back. It never entered my head not to go back riding; there are too many nice horses to ride at home at the moment” Liz enthuses.
It was a real family affair as Carrigeen Lechuga is trained by Liz’s father, Dick and owned by her mother, Ann. The Lalors have been breeding horses for many years now
A three-time champion lady rider on the point-to-point circuit, Liz came to prominence on the track thanks to her exploits on Carrigeen Kalmia. Between them, the pair won the Listed Phil Sweeney Chase at Thurles as well as three other chases.
Carrigeen Lechuga is the present now though, having come out with Liz to win again at Thurles last week. So the mare represents the future too, with the Ladbrokes.com Irish Grand National a potential target, if not for this year, than definitely for 2013.
“Dad is thinking about it. He’s not sure whether he’ll go for it or keep her in novice company this year to gain a bit more experience before taking on the more seasoned campaigners. I’d love to ride in it but if she doesn’t go for it this year, it might happen next year because the further she goes, the better she goes. She’s a real National mare.”
From: Moone, Co Kildare
Notable successes: Goffs Land Rover Bumper (Imperial Cascade 2009), Diageo Ireland Punchestown Charity Stakes (Moscow Flyer 2007), Irish Sun INH Flat Race (Burn And Turn 2011), RSM Farrell Grant Sparks Maiden (Steps To Freedom 2011)
Principal Trainer: Jessica Harrington
Kate Harrington has never had to look too far for inspiration when it comes to her desire to be a success as a jockey AND an elite-level event rider.
Her mother Jessica is the top dual-purpose trainer in Ireland, preparing horses to win Graded and Group races on the levels and over obstacles with apparent ease.
Prior to that of course, the Mistress of Moone was one of Ireland’s premier event riders, competing in three European Championships, one World Championship and being selected for two Olympics. Unfortunately, the Irish eventers boycotted Moscow in 1980 while her horse got lame in Los Angeles four years later. She did, however, participate in what was dubbed ‘The Substitute Olympics’ in France in 1980.
Jessica’s father, Bryan Fowler won a silver medal as a member of the British polo team at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, while her brother, John Fowler was picked to participate in Ireland’s eventing team at the 1968 Olympics. Unfortunately, he failed to recover in time from a broken collarbone.
Kate has already competed at numerous European championships, winning a bronze medal in the pony championships in 2005. She continues to chase the Olympic dream that has driven her family for generations, but at the same time, is quickly becoming a thoroughbred jockey to contend with.
Her first win on the track came on board the legendary Moscow Flyer on an emotional day in the 2007 Diageo Ireland Punchestown charity race. It was her first ride in public and the former Champion Chase winner’s last appearance. Two years later, she was booting Imperial Cascade to victory in the Goffs Land Rover Bumper and she continues to produce the goods.
“I’m very lucky in that I have a very good event horse and Mum gives me the opportunity to ride in bumpers as well” Kate reveals. “I love the challenge of doing both although I change my style an awful lot going from one to the other.
“I actually find my race-riding helps me for my cross-country riding because I can be so positive, while the discipline and patience I need for dressage comes into play when I’m riding a race, feeling how a horse is travelling underneath me.”
Kate has progressed to point-to-pointing and hurdling and would love to repeat her late Uncle John’s win in the Irish Grand National some day, particularly if it helped her mother win the race.
“My first memory of the National is when Bobbyjo won it. I was very young and I think Mum had won a big race before it. I know it’s a race she has always wanted to win, so it’s a big ambition for us all.”
From: Conna, Co Cork
Notable success: Cork & Waterford (Mares) P-To-P Flat Race (Jamie’s Darling 2011)
Principal Trainer: Jimmy Mangan
Not many jockeys have ridden winners on their first rides. To do so on a horse owned by your uncle and trained by your father makes for a brilliant story and it’s one Jane Mangan is understandably happy to tell.
Applying for a licence to ride wasn’t even her idea. While Jane had always been around horses, and her brother Paddy was a professional jockey, race-riding hadn’t seemed like an option until her mother, Mary presented her with the forms.
“I had them filled out before my father even knew” Jane laughs.
Her father is Jimmy Mangan, who trained Monty’s Pass to win the Aintree Grand National in 2003. It was a memorable occasion, celebrated not just by the Mangan household and the people of Conna, but the entire point-to-point community in East Cork and West Waterford. More of which in a bit.
Initially, the idea was that Jane would ride Conna Castle in Open Lightweights at point-to-points and the pair had won two when her uncle, Billy Mangan offered her the mount on Jamie’s Darling in a Cork bumper last April. Not too much was expected of horse or pilot, but the 17-year-old Mangan timed her run to perfection to produce the daughter of Old Vic for a snug enough victory inside the final furlong.
“My instructions were ‘go out and enjoy yourself’ and I did that. I have five winners on the track now and three at points.”
Despite all the excitement at the time, Jane’s memories of Monty’s Pass etching his name in Grand National history are hazy.
“I was nine and it’s not as clear as many people would think. In the build-up, I was shipped off to my grandparents and I was there too on the day. I was away from the tension and hype. I only thought of it as a race. It was a race in England so I knew it was a bit bigger than your average race. But I didn’t have a clue how big a deal it was.”
Jane is a Leaving Cert student but doesn’t find it difficult to combine studying and riding. Indeed, it’s a help to unwind from one by kicking into the other. Such an outlook is fairly typical of a remarkably mature teenager, who looks set for a long and successful career in the saddle.
One thing is for sure, she is certainly not lacking in role models.