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'The look in Ruby's eyes said it all' -- Katie

The Walsh family have had many reasons to be joyous at the Cheltenham Festival but yesterday was just a little different, specially different.

Ruby had a day to forget early on with Master Minded underperforming in the Champion Chase on ground he just found a shade quick, while prior to that he hit the deck twice with crunching falls.

Later he stood alone as the most successful jockey ever at the Festival when Sanctuaire became his 26th winner of the Festival -- a record he is sure to hold on to for some time to come.

However, it was following the running of the opener that had the tears flowing from every Walsh eye in Cheltenham as Katie (pictured left)) opened her Festival account with an absolute peach of a ride aboard the Ferdy Murphy-trained Poker de Sivola.

Walsh has often stood to welcome back her big brother to the winners enclosure. But on this occasion it was her father Ted, who was seemingly creating carnage in the Channel 4 studio as her mother Helen, sister Jennifer and brothers, Ruby and Ted, awaited to welcome her back to the coveted winners' enclosure for the first time.

The tears were flowing from Katie too as she soaked up the atmosphere of her first winner at the Cheltenham Festival and the punters reception was fitting to the moment.

"I'm lost for words," said the 25-year-old. "My father is who I go to if I ever need something and I know how much this means to him. Ruby said 'well done' to me but didn't really need to say anything -- the look in his eyes said it all -- he knows what it means to me."

The first four home were all Irish- ridden and on Noel Glynn's Becauseicouldntsee was Nina Carberry, one of Walsh's closest friends.

"Nina's a great friend and knows how much it means to me," said Katie. "We are great friends but out there (racing) is out there and winning at Cheltenham is what everyone wants to do and I'm fortunate that it's my turn this year.


"I couldn't believe it turning in that Nina was coming -- I thought, 'Jesus, of all people, not Nina!' It's brilliant, just brilliant."

A proud father said: "What a great ride Katie got off him. Nina is a big part of our family too and this is a great day for me, Helen, Katie and all of us. Katie will remember it for the rest of her life."

Meanwhile, jockey Davy Russell had some stern words for television pundit and punter John McCririck following his criticism of Brian O'Connell on Dunguib in Tuesday's Supreme Novices' Hurdle.

"I was very disappointed with the comments of John McCririck and what was said about Brian O'Connell," Russell said. "Brian is only a chap, I was where he was now and if it was Ruby (Walsh) or Barry (Geraghty) or myself, we can take it on the chin, but John McCririck -- who wouldn't know one end of a horse from another -- needs to take it on the chin when he loses his money.

"Brian O'Connell lost as much out of this as anybody. He's at the bottom of the ladder trying his best to make his way up and he doesn't need that. The comments were very unsporting and as a colleague of Brian I was very insulted," said Russell.

Here, here Davy.