JOCKEY Paul Carberry hailed his finest hour after claiming a first major Cheltenham Festival win at the age of 39 aboard Solwhit in yesterday’s Ladbrokes World Hurdle.
The 17-2 shot, who only returned from a two-year injury lay-off on New Year’s Eve, beat Celestial Halo by two and a half lengths after the pair had eclipsed early leader Bog Warrior.
Carberry, too, was recovering from fitness problems, having needed an injection in his shoulder following a fall on Tuesday that aggravated a previous injury.
“I think this is the top,” he said. “I’ve won some big races and had some great rides here, like on Frenchman’s Creek, Bellvano and Crack Away Jack.
“I’ve finished second in a Gold Cup and a Champion Hurdle, but this is the first major one. I’m only 39, so there’s plenty of time to get the other big ones.
“I got a bad bang on the shoulder the other day, it just hurt my ligaments and tendons. I had a couple of shots in it, which didn’t work out yesterday but my own doctor came over, gave me an injection and it worked.”
Trainer Charles Byrnes toasted a victory two years in the making, adding: “We were looking at this race two years ago but he had a tendon problem. We tried to bring him back last year, but we weren’t happy so we had to give him the rest of the year. We knew he was coming back, but it was only in the last two weeks it all came together.”
Cue Card underlined his burgeoning reputation by beating favourite First Lieutenant to the Ryanair Chase, in a victory for father-and-son Colin and Joe Tizzard, the seven-year-old’s trainer and jockey respectively.
Benefficient caused an upset in the Jewson Novices Chase, the 20-1 shot pipping favourite Dynaste, while the Jonjo O’Neill-trained Holywell won the Pertemps Final and Grand National-winning jockey Liam Treadwell rode Carrickboy to glory in the Byrne Group Plate.