Bobbyjo winner of the 1999 Grand National steeplechase

  • b g Bustineto – Markup (Appiani II)
  • Foaled: 5th May 1990
  • Breeder: Liam Skehan
  • Wins: 8
  • Trainer: Tommy Carberry
  • Owner: Robert Burke

Bobbyjo Winner of the 1999 Grand National Steeplechase

It was 24 years since an Irish-trained runner had triumphed in the Grand National when Bobbyjo arrived at Aintree in 1999. The record books showed history was against Tommy Carberry’s runner, which was set to be ridden by the trainer’s son Paul. But the partnership ensured the drought was broken as they came clear after jumping the last to win by 10 lengths.

The nine-year-old was subject of a flood of money from the Emerald Isle forcing his price down to 10-1 at the off. The omens were good as Bobbyjo, jumping fluently, travelled well clinging to the rail behind the leaders. He crept closer as they crossed the Melling Road for the last time and as the field approached the second last he was going onimously well. When sent to the front he roared up the run-in and passed the post looking as fresh as a daisy. Coincidently, the last Irish horse to win the National was L’Escartgot ridden by Tommy Carberry. But it was Carberry jnr who held the reins as Bobbyjo came clear of Blue Charm to win.

It was a bumper year for finishers with 18 managing to scramble their way to the finishing line. Bobbyjo was racing from 14 pounds out of the handicap and therefore became only the eighth horse since the war to carry the minimum of ten stone to victory. Although he was backed down to 10-1 as the tapes went up his owner, Irishman and North London publican Robert Burke, was holding vouchers at 40-1.

Continue reading about Bobbyjo

Burke bought Bobbyjo as a young horse over a drink in a Galway pub. After seeing his horse land the money he said: “I don’t think I shall be going home for a week. I’ve no more dreams left, I’ve no more dreams left.”

“It’s a dream come true,” exclaimed the delighted winning jockey. “He was absolutely bouncing off the ground and was going well the whole way round. I knew he’d quicken and I sat still for as long as I could but as soon as he pinged the last I went for home and he picked up really well. I was frightened he was going to stop at The Elbow but he kept going all the way to the line. It’s absolutely fantastic – it’s hard to get any better than this.”

His father and the winning trainer Tommy Carberry said: “I’m delighted – it’s even better training a National winner than riding one! Paul gave him in a fantastic ride.”

Bobbyjo put down after injury

BOBBYJO, the winner of the 1999 Martell Grand National, has died following further complications to an injury from which he was recovering.

The horse will be buried in Mountbellew, County Galway, the home town of his owner, London publican Bobby Burke. Bobbyjo was at a veterinary hospital at The Curragh, recovering from an operation on a shattered carpal bone behind his near-fore, when he aggravated the injury and was put to sleep on Tuesday afternoon. The 11-year-old picked up the injury in the GrandNational Trial Handicap Chase at Fairyhouse in February, and the decision was made to retire the gelding after that on veterinary advice.

Bobbyjo won eight races and became the first Irish-trained winner of the National since L’Escargot in 1975 when scoring at Aintree for father-and-son team Tommy and Paul Carberry. He also won the 1998 Irish Grand National, beating Papillon.

Paul Carberry described the Aintree success as “the biggest thrill” of his career.

When the horse was retired, Tommy Carberry said: “Bobbyjo gave us some great days. He was a big favourite with our whole family.”

Connections of Bobbyjo pay tribute to their hero following death on Tuesday

THOSE to whom Bobbyjo gave an unforgettable thrill by winning the 1999 Martell Grand National paid tribute to the horse yesterday following his death on Tuesday, writes Michael Clower. The Aintree hero, who also won the 1998 Irish Grand National, has been buried on a farm in the County Galway village of Mullaghmore after failing to recover from the broken bone in his near-fore knee at Fairyhouse in February.

Bobby Burke, who owned the 11-year-old, said yesterday: “We buried him on the farm that my parents had. Mullaghmore is where I grew up and went to school.

“The horse gave us some wonderful moments and it was only through a real stroke of luck that I had him at all. When he was six months old I happened to be sitting in a pub in Galway city taking to the man who owned him. He was becoming involved in the building trade and said he was fed up with horses and asked me if I would buy some of them. I bought six, including the foal. I named him after the first names of myself and my wife, Jo. We first realised he was going to be good when he won the Porterstown Handicap Chase at Fairyhouse in November 1997, but we thought we had something very special when he landed the Irish Grand National the following Easter. The rest is history.”

Burke has now sold all but three of the string of London pubs that he owned. But he still has the one on Kingsland Road at Dalston. It was renamed the Bobbyjo Bar after the horse’s triumph at Aintree.

Trainer Tommy Carberry, who rode L’Escargot to win the 1975 Grand National, is one of only four men to have both ridden and trained a National winner. He said: “Something set in on the good leg that was taking Bobbyjo’s weight. We hoped it would get better, but it just got worse and worse. He was still at Ned Gowing’s veterinary practice on The Curragh when he had to be put down. Bobbyjo gave us some great moments and he was a wonderful servant. He was also a gentleman of a horse—anybody could ride him out. He might not have been any great shakes early on in his career, but he became a fine type of chaser when he developed and matured.”

Carberry’s son Paul rode the horse to victory in four of his eight wins, including the two most important ones. “He was a very easy horse to ride,” Carberry said. “He would settle for you and you could do anything you wanted with him. He was also very genuine and he jumped brilliantly.”