He suffered problems with his left shoulder in the spring, and in July had an operation to stitch torn muscles back onto a bone in his shoulder. He knew he had to have the work done on his shoulder, but did not expect recovery to take so long. He said, “I can’t wait to get back. I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited to get back race riding again. I knew it was going to take a long time, but I didn’t think it would be this long.
It had to be done and I just had to mind it for a while, but I’ve been back riding out for a couple of months now, so hopefully I’m fit enough.”
Appropriately, his first ride back is for Noel Meade, for whom Carberry is stable jockey. I won’t begrudge him a win, but hope he has one later on in the afternoon, as my money is on his last ride of the day, Gordon Elliott’s Not For Changing. Meade was happy to welcome his jockey back, saying, “It wasn’t looking good for a long time but he really wanted to come back and worked very hard at it. Eventually it all came together and he’s made great progress in recent weeks. He’s looking forward to getting back on the track and I’m very happy about it too.”
I have to wonder, though, whether at the age of 39 he might be advised to stop riding, but I suppose if it’s in your blood you carry on. And it most definitely is in his; there are generations of Carberrys across Irish racing.
Paul Carberry doesn’t have anything to prove. He’s one of only six jockeys to ride more than 1,000 winners, and currently has 1,510 to his name. He’s ridden 13 Cheltenham Festival winners starting with Rhythm Section and most recently on Solwhit in this year’s World Hurdle. He’s closing in on 50 Grade 1 winners, and has regularly and successfully partnered a couple of the most enigmatic horses of recent years in Harchibald and Beef Or Salmon. He’s won an English and an Irish Grand National, and been champion jockey in Ireland twice.
So why return and risk further damage to his shoulder? It’s in the blood, as simple as that.