The outstanding woman amateur of her generation has clinched the St James’s Place Foxhunter Chase for the second year on the run at the Cheltenham Festival today, Friday 18th March 2016.
Nina Carberry won last year’s race riding On The Fringe for owner JP McManus, and she repeated the feat on the same horse, bringing the Enda Bolger-trained winner through late under a beautifully-timed ride to win going away.
Carberry has now won six races at The Festival and three St James’s Place Foxhunter Chases.
She said: “I’m just so happy, so happy, I can’t believe it. I didn’t think I had a chance turning in, I was boxed in with nowhere to go. I was bit worried going to the second last and I needed a jump at the last and he winged them, he’s always there for you.
“He [Enda Bolger] is unbelievable for getting a horse right. He kept him for today and a spring campaign and he’s done a great job.”
“I was expecting a better gallop for him, to be honest, to use his jumping more and I couldn’t really do that. When it started heating up a lot of bunching happened and we missed the third last and I thought, ‘oh God, our chance has gone’ because they’d kicked on a bit and I’d lost about three lengths. But in fairness he dug back and winged the last two, and he kept going. It was a brilliant training performance by Enda.
“[The horse] doesn’t handle very heavy ground and it showed that day [at Leopardstown]; he didn’t handle it at all but we needed to get a run into him and he had to run. He loves the spring ground – it brings out the best in him. It’s a dream come true to win here again.”
Enda Bolger, who trains On The Fringe, said: “He hadn’t run since Punchestown in April when he was beaten first time out this season, and after his three big wins here, at Aintree and Punchestown we were very kind on him and gave him a good break at JP’s place. He came back a little too burly and needed a race for the match practice. He needed to pull out all the stops today.
“He likes to be ridden from behind and arrive late, but they were going so fast up front there was no other option. It all came together.
“If everything is okay in the next 10 days the plan is to go back to Aintree, and then consider Punchestown again.”
PLAUDITS FOR PENDLETON
Back in fifth, and worthy of just as many plaudits as Carberry, was Victoria Pendleton, the Olympian who began riding last year, and covered herself in glory on Pacha Du Polder.
She was beaten less than three lengths and was finishing as well as any after a hold-up ride, while 13/8 favourite On The Fringe beat Marito by a neck, with last year’s third, Paint The Clouds, taking that slot again, another length further back. Sheikh Fahad’s Current Event was fourth, beaten a further length.
Asked about Victoria Pendleton, Carberry said: “It’s the first time I’ve met her today and I think she’s great. She’s got an unbelievable attitude to the whole thing and I’m delighted she got around – fifth place is a great achievement. She had a great horse to ride and look after her, and may she go onwards from here. She has the competitive edge and she loves it to bits.”
Enda Bolger added: “It’s exciting, and it’s got a bit of everything – we’re not only clapping Nina on the back, but Victoria also. It was a brilliant performance by both women and it gives the [St James’s Place] Foxhunter Chase a great lift.”