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Ruby right to Ditch' it – Stewart

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Ruby Walsh has quit Paul Nicholls yard. Pic: PA

Ruby Walsh has quit Paul Nicholls yard. Pic: PA

Ruby Walsh has quit Paul Nicholls yard. Pic: PA

LEADING owner Andy Stewart paid tribute to Ruby Walsh after it emerged the Irish jockey would no longer be formally attached to Paul Nicholls' stable.

Walsh has worn Stewart's red, white and black silks to win some of the biggest prizes in the game, most famously four Ladbrokes World Hurdles at Cheltenham on Big Buck's.

His absence means Daryl Jacob will assume the number one position at Nicholls' powerful Ditcheat yard.

However, Stewart agrees with Walsh's decision that, with a young family, he needs to spend more time in Ireland.

"Ruby called me yesterday and told me of his decision and I fully understand it," Stewart said. "I told him he was doing the right thing. I was much too busy working when my kids were growing up and it is one thing I regret.

 

Lovely

"He's got a wife and two lovely kids that he never sees. He sees more of AP McCoy's family than his own!

"It doesn't mean he'll never ride for me again, just not at the smaller tracks midweek.

"Of course, Daryl (Jacob) has just won a big race in France for me on Celestial Halo and will be going back out to France to try to win the French Champion Hurdle, where Ruby will be riding Thousand Stars I'd imagine."

With Big Buck's sidelined for the second half of last season and at least the first half of next, Stewart is in no rush to confirm who will ride him.

"When it comes to Big Buck's in March (Cheltenham Festival), he needs to get there first," said Stewart. "He'll either have one prep race or go straight there. I wouldn't go as far as to say Big Buck's is definitely Daryl's ride, we'll do what is best for both horses, but it is not something you'd decide in May.

"It's been a real pleasure to have had Ruby riding my horses and 2008 was a magical year. Oslot won the Galway Plate after JP McManus told me English horses and especially five-year-olds couldn't win it. Gwanako won the Topham, Nycteos won the Lanzarote Hurdle and then Big Buck's won the Grade Two novice chase at Aintree."

Stewart added: "This is a great opportunity for Daryl. Ruby is one of the finest horsemen of all time but Daryl has proved himself as a very good jockey. Ruby has decided that family comes first and that is the correct decision."

 

TRAVELLING

Walsh broke the news in his column in the Irish Examiner. He wrote: "I started as Paul's stable jockey in October 2002, but when I chose to live in Ireland, this was always going to be a job that involved a lot of travelling.

"Paul has never been anything but fair and honest since our association began and has been responsible for some of the most amazing days of my life.

"Ditcheat is a much bigger place now than when I started there. While Kauto Star and Denman are gone, the rebuilding process is well advanced.

"However, at 34 years of age, I no longer feel I can give 100 per cent to two yards – and being a bit-part player will only hinder both."


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