Locals celebrate as their national hero returns
THE tricolours flew and the cameras clicked as the village of Ratoath, Co Meath turned out in force for the historic welcome home party for Ireland's equine star Bobbyjo.
A crowd of several hundred people gathered in the picturesque village from mid afternoon yesterday, eagerly awaiting the arrival home of the Aintree Martell Grand National Winner 1999.
When winning trainer Tommy Carberry pulled up in an open-top car in front of Rory's Pub, the place erupted with cheers, champagne and not a few tears.
If ever there was a story for the history books this was it. Not since the great Irish Grand National winner `Caughoo' won the English Grand National at odds of 100/1 in 1947 had there been such local excitement.
Some 24 years ago, Tommy Carberry (57) partnered Ireland's last winner in the big race when he guided L'Escargot past the famous Aintree winning post. Now he was back once again as both champion trainer and father of winning jockey Paul (25). The race was a fairy tale come true for the Carberry family.
The delighted trainer joked: ``Let me tell you, when you are riding in the National yourself, it seems the race takes about three minutes but when I was watching it, it seemed to take about three years.''