Animal Kingdom – Paul Carberry Q&A

Peter Carberry, the youngest brother of the well-known Carberry racing dynasty, is more known for riding over the Jumps. But the 24 year-old conditional jockey has managed to land the job of work-rider to the highest profile horse heading to Royal Ascot next week – Animal Kingdom. We spoke to the young jockey about what it is like to ride the 2011 Kentucky Derby winner:

How did you get the job?
“It’s rather unfortunate, but his usual work rider had her finger bitten off by him when she wasn’t looking, so she had to give the riding a break. David Lanigan, whose yard Animal Kingdom is staying in and who I ride work for, put me up for the job.”

Where do you ride him out?
“He either works up the short or long gallop in Lambourn. He will canter most days, but if he has worked, like when he went to Ascot Racecourse to work, he will come back and have a few days’ rest.”

How far do you work him?
“The gallops are about mile long, so I’ll push him from about the two furlong pole to about the six and then I’ll start to pull him up.”

What’s his routine?
“He goes out with first lot, which is roughly about 6.30am (early I know!), he’s tacked and ready and I get to take him up to the gallops and work him, then he’ll be back to his box for wash-down and brush and then, if he hasn’t already, he might go out for a little pick of grass. But he does his own thing, he doesn’t stick to David’s routine, he’s separate from them.”

Does he have any quirky characteristics?
“When he first started he walked slowly and took the mick a bit, but once you get a tongue-tie on him and get him to work he knows it’s time to get down to business – he stops taking the piss then!”

What is your normal day job?
“During the winter I am conditional jockey to Nicky Henderson, but during the summer when it’s a bit quieter on the Jumps front, I go ride out three lots for David Lanigan and just try and keep myself busy.”

Peter Carberry riding work on Animal KingdomWhat’s the difference between the hurdlers and chasers you normally ride and Animal Kingdom?
“The main difference is the speed, this fella can change gears when he is working up so quickly, it’s amazing really. I’ve ridden good horses before especially at Nicky Henderson’s, I even had the pleasure of sitting on Sprinter Sacre before, but his (Animal Kingdom’s) speed is something else. When you’re sat on a good horse you feel something different about them, they have a different presence about them.”

Do you feel nervous sitting on such a high-profile horse?
“I don’t feel any different actually, it doesn’t really bother me. When we get closer to the big day at Ascot, everyone else will be getting nervous so I suppose that will rub off on me, but generally I feel okay.”

Is Animal Kingdom going to win next week?
“Of course! Look, the race has weakened with the likes of Farhh and Cityscape being non-runners, but he has every chance and does everything right at home. You know, it’s difficult to win at Royal Ascot but if anyone’s got a chance this boy has.”

Does he have an entourage?
“Yeah he’s got his own farrier and the poor old work rider (who lost her finger) and now the trainer is over permanently in the build-up to next week. He always has people coming and going the whole time. I don’t really take notice of it, I just get up in the morning and make sure I do my best for him when he’s working on the gallops.”

What about his plans after Royal Ascot?
“We’ll have to see how he gets on at Royal Ascot. His trainer and owners will make their decision once he has run next week.”