The much vaunted career of Ruby Walsh drew to a successful conclusion yesterday evening after 24 years in the saddle where he steered Kemboy to victory in the 2019 Coral Punchestown Gold Cup. He had the chance to partner some of horse racing finest over that 24 years. Horse racing is not everyone’s cup of tea but Ruby’s career has to be recognised as he won 12 Irish Jockey Championships and won 59 races in Cheltenham, the Olympics of Jump racing.
He worked for 2 very powerful yards , namely Paul Nicholls in England and Willie Mullins in Ireland, combing both jobs for a large period of time in the mid 2000’s. He won the Aintree Grand National twice in 2000 and again in 2005.
I have had the pleasure of seeing this man use his skills at the famed September meeting in Listowel. He along with Sir Anthony Mc Coy, Barry Geraghty, Davy Russell and Richard Johnston in England are some of the best National Hunt Jockeys you will ever see. Forget this talk that Ruby was only good in his generation, he was one of the best ever.
Yes he didn’t always get his tactics spot on but such is life, we can’t always get things right. But to watch Ruby in action was always a pleasure and he and Willie Mullins made a formidable team at Cheltenham in particular where the opening day of the Festival had been nicknamed “Ruby Tuesday” such was his high success rate on the opening day.
He has managed to stay top of his game for such a long time is a testament to his skill and of course the calibre of horse he had at his disposal. To win Leading Jockey 11 times in Cheltenham in some achievement and yes many will say “but sure he had great horses, but they won’t go very far without the right pilot on board”.
He will now move onto new projects hinting that he may look to work with English based racing channel Racing TV and keep up his work with other well known brands. He has already stated that training won’t be his radar at the moment as he wants to try his hand at other things first.
Over the last 24 hours, many well known figures have heaped praise on him and what he has managed to do over 24 years. He will know most likely see his position taken by Paul Townend and Willie’s son Patrick along with his nephews Danny and David who will try and carry on the terrific work done by all at Willie Mullins base in Co Carlow.
This will not be an easy job to replace some one of Ruby’s calibre but Paul Townend has already shown he is more than capable of doing the job of winning on the big day and so have the three Mullins boys so Willie can take solace from that.
Congrats on a great career in the saddle Ruby, all the very best in the next chapter…… I’ll let you off the €20 you cost me at the 2018 Listowel Festival…..