Documentary on One

The Carberrys - Running in the Family

A radio documentary about the Carberrys, one of Ireland's most famous race horsing dynasties.

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Documentary maker: Aideen McLoughlin

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The Carberrys - Running in the Family

RTE Radio One presents a unique insight into one of Ireland's most famous sporting dynasties.

Despite their legendary status in the horse-racing world, the Carberry family has - until now - shunned much of the spotlight when its shone upon them away from the weighing rooms and winners enclosures.

In a revealing portrait, Old Yard Productions, for RTE, has gained unrivalled access to the family as they train, compete and simply go about their day to day lives on their Co Meath farm, in the run up to the celebrated Cheltenham Festival.

Father Tommy Carberry, who won the Aintree Grand National as both a trainer and jockey (L'Escargot as a jockey and as a trainer of Bobbyjo, riden by his son Paul), speaks openly about his pride in his family's achievements.

"We [Ireland] hadn't won the National for 24 years - I was the one to win it last on L'Escargot," he says of the 1999 father-and-son victory on Bobbyjo.

"You'd have to be proud that something went right for a change."

Forty years married this year, he recalls meeting his wife Pamela Carberry, while an apprentice to her father, the twice-victorious Irish Grand National-winning horse trainer Dan Moore.

The couple went on to produce a bloodline often compared to the top thoroughbred horses they ride, in Paul, Philip, Nina and Peter.

The oldest of the four, Paul Carberry, was one-years-old when his father rode L'Escargot to a memorable victory over Red Rum in a nail-biting finish to the Aintree Grand National in 1975.

Growing up on their Ratoath Farm, near the home of the Irish National at Fairyhouse, he used to imagine the sitting room sofa was L'Escargot, and it wasn't long before he started riding for real at the age of three.

"Paul Carberry makes the job he does look almost ridiculously simple sometimes," says Brian O'Connor, author of Kings of the Saddle.

"He rides horses the way the rest of us breathe."

Documentary-maker Aideen McLoughlin speaks candidly with Paul as he edges closer to retirement about his phenomenal gift as a jockey and also his notorious ability to hit the headlines for his activities away from the racecourse.

His determination to have a good time when he is not competing has sparked a catalogue of myths and legends around him, that have stretched around the world.

Even as far away as Australia, a newspaper recently reported an incident when the man nick-named Alice (Smokie's Living Next door to Alice is his party piece) climbed out the window of a speeding car and crawled across the roof before getting back in through another window.

In 2005, he narrowly escaped jail after burning a copy of the Irish Times on board a plane from Spain to Ireland.

After winning the world's most famous steeplechase, the Aintree Grand National, Paul told millions of television viewers that it was his sister Nina who was "the best of all of us". She was 14 at the time.

Nina Carberry went on to establish herself as the top female rider in the UK and Ireland, winning at the Cheltenham Festival numerous times. Some commentators believe she is the most talented female jump jockey ever.

While other children in the neighbourhood were racing bicycles, she recalls pony rides with her brothers.

"Mum used to put us on a little pony when we were two or three-years-old to give us a new view of life. I was four when I got my own pony," she said.

Initially overshadowed by his siblings, Philip Carberry sealed his reputation as a top class jockey by winning the Irish National on Point Barrow four years ago.

He has gone on to become extremely successful, particularly in France, where he became the first Irish or British jockey to ride the winner of the Grande Steeplechase de Paris since the legendary Fred Winter in 1960.

Away from the racecourse, Philip reveals his love of flying helicopters and surfing, a passion shared by sister Nina.
Of the six Carberry children - Thomas, Paul, Philip, Nina, Peter and Mark - all are involved with horses, except Mark who makes his living away from the game as a carpenter.

In this honest portrayal of a legendary sporting dynasty, the documentary-maker gives an insight into the sibling rivalries, the close bonds, the fall-outs and the fortunes of an often modest Irish family as they work towards the "Olympics of the world's racing calender", Cheltenham.

Produced by Aideen McLoughlin of Old Yard Productions Ltd.

Production Supervision by Sarah Blake

Sound Supervision by Mark Dwyer.

The Carberrys - Running in the Family was funded through the Brodcasting Authority of Ireland's Sound and Vision funding Scheme.


First broadcast 14th March 2010.

An Irish radio documentary from RTÉ Radio 1, Ireland - Documentary on One - the home of Irish radio documentaries.

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